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WDF voices concern over growing vulnerability of healthcare workers to COVID-19

By Our Correspondent
April 15, 2020

The Women Democratic Front (WDF) on Tuesday raised concerns over the rising infection rates among healthcare workers and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the healthcare workers, especially those working on the front-line in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that dozens of healthcare workers had been infected over the past few months.

“The healthcare workers, especially a large number of female nursing staff, must be provided with PPE against occupational hazards since they return to their families and cannot isolate themselves due to the work burden at home,” said Ismat Shahjahan, president of the WDF, a left-leaning women group, in a meeting held to discuss the increasing vulnerability of the working class during the ongoing pandemic.

“This is sheer neglect and incompetence on the part of the federal government.” She said that the hospitals must demand from the government to protect all the workers working in isolation facilities, including janitorial staff were not part of the larger discussion about the provision of the PPE.

“In the fight against the pandemic, those who are fighting at the front-line are the most vulnerable to getting infected from the virus, protecting the lives of the front-liners must be our utmost priority further, the state must ensure the provision of the equipment and increase the domestic manufacturing of the equipment while ensuring workers safety.”

WDF Secretary-General Alya Bakhshal said that the pandemic lockdown in the country had rendered thousands of daily-wage earners and workers unemployed, and the working class must be provided with basic income to meet their basic needs.

“Organising the workers during the time of the crisis is necessary for their survival, pro-people organisations must unite to take this forward with a pro workers agenda, including the protection of lives and livelihoods of all workers.”

Dr Tooba Syed, secretary information of the WDF, said: “We must prepare ourselves by expanding our existing healthcare system with a focus on acquiring ventilators, test kits and PPE. We should learn from the best examples in the world who used massive testing, bottom-up information sharing and prioritising healthcare workers’ lives in the fight against the pandemic.”

The WDF also expressed great concern at a demand for the removal of the country’s top health official, Dr Zafar Mirza, in the middle of the crisis. It demanded that the government should ensure the provision of PPE to all healthcare workers and sanitation staff at the hospitals on an emergency basis. The WDF called upon healthcare workers to organise for the formation of action committees and vowed to stand in solidarity with them.

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