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April 17, 2020

Tribute to our heroes


April 17, 2020

This is tribute to the doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital cleaners who are fighting against Covid-19 at the frontlines.

These people have put their lives at stake to provide much-needed medical treatment to infected patients. They are working round the clock without proper breaks. One can say that in times of pandemics doctors, nurses and health workers are showing humanity at the front line.

A number of healthcare personnel have already been infected while treating infected patients; and two doctors have lost their lives. Doctors and health workers are waging an epic battle. They are doing this despite the fact that not all of them have received adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like specialised uniforms, masks and other protective equipment.

Pressure is mounting on healthcare workers as the number of patients with infections are rising. More than 5000 patients are in hospitals. We need to provide every possible help and facilities to the medical staff in performing their duties.

This crisis has also shown that we must change our attitude towards low-wage workers doing odd jobs. Imagine a hospital or a supermarket without a cleaning staff. Their contribution to keep us safe is no less significant. Their lives are at stake but they are performing their duties to keep us safe.

The pilots and crews of the Pakistan Air Force are playing a crucial role in the supplies of medical equipment, masks, protective gears, medicines and other material from China. The PAF is also providing medical and food supplies to the far-flung areas of the country.

The PAF transported medical supplies in the first week of February from Pakistan to China's Wuhan City, which was the epicenter of the novel coronavirus and was struggling to cope with the pandemic. PAF transport planes were used to transport tons of essential supplies to Wuhan city. The PAF also provided food and other supplies to the Pakistani students stranded in Wuhan.

Since March, 2020 the PAF has been playing a leading role in bringing much needed supplies from China. PAF transport planes have so far brought tons of essential supplies for doctors- paramedical staff and hospitals. They fly to China to bring the 20,000 N-95 masks, 0.3 million medical face masks, 10 ICU ventilators, and 5 portable ventilators gifted by the Chinese government to Pakistan.

We also have the soldiers of the Pakistan Army, the Rangers and the police who are playing an active role in the implementation of the lockdown and restriction imposed by the government. They are putting their lives at stake to save others. They are fully exposed to the virus.

Then there are the workers of supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries and other shops who continue to provide food, medicine and other essentials in difficult times. They are also risking their lives.

We also have the workers of public utilities and services who are providing us uninterrupted power, water, gas and other services and utilities. Many of these workers are performing their assigned duties without having proper protective gears and safety measures.

A tribute also to the reporters, editorial staff, media persons and camerapersons of newspapers and TV channels for providing us news and entertainment in these depressing times and keeping us updated on national and international events.

And let us not forget the drivers, loaders and other people working in the supply chains of food, medicine, agricultural produce and others to provide us food, groceries, medicines and other essential products. All these people are working and risking their lives while we are staying at home to keep ourselves safe.

In normal circumstances, we consider the work of doctors, engineers, bureaucrats, experts, teachers, executives and managers as key and crucial to run the society. They undoubtedly play an important role in the economy and society. But they are not only ones.

We undermine the importance of the work done by salespersons, cleaners, loaders, drivers, delivery boys, factory workers, plumbers, electricians, masons and other working people. But the coronavirus crisis has shown us that working people are the ones who are the backbone of the economy and running society.

The working men and women contributing to the running of society and economy deserve to be treated with respect, equality and dignity. This is the best way to pay tribute to them and show our gratitude.

The writer is a freelance journalist.