Support for public health professionals and doctors, provision of PPE (protective personal equipment) along with medications and ventilators are the need of the hour worldwide. In Pakistan, however, it appears that not only is the government not providing enough PPE to our doctors but when they protest, they are beaten up and arrested.
In other countries, people are taking to the streets to applaud their health workers, doctors in Quetta “where almost 25 medical officials have already tested positive – were beaten by the police, for daring to protest over the lack of PPE.”
As a BBC investigative story shows: “PPE shortages have been in the headlines ever since the coronavirus pandemic struck early last month, mainly because it was an unprecedented situation and the magnitude of demand could not have been foreseen. It was supposed to be just a picture of Pakistan’s president taking precautions during an official meeting. But instead the image of President Dr Arif Alvi wearing the high-end N-95 medical mask – tweeted out on social media – has further inflamed tensions between Pakistan’s government and those on the front line of the fight against coronavirus. The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) noted that while “politicians and bureaucrats are often seen wearing N-95 masks during meetings and visits… health professionals are facing a dire shortage of (these masks) and PPE (personal protective equipment)”.”
Further, “For the 200,000 or so practising doctors in Pakistan, the outbreak came just six months after they were stunned by a controversial government decision to close the country’s top health professionals’ regulatory body, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). That decision left 15,000 fresh medical graduates without certification, while around 30,000 doctors still await their routine five-year registration renewal which is necessary for them to continue to practise medicine in Pakistan and abroad, a source in the PMDC said.”
According to a Guardian story “In one of the largest hospitals designated to deal with coronavirus, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad, the capital, there are only 50 or so functioning ventilators. And two-thirds of Pakistan’s population live in rural communities with no access to hospitals equipped to deal with coronavirus patients, or sometimes to any medical facilities at all.”
Instead of accepting the reality, “Dr Zafar Mirza, special assistant on health to the prime minister, Imran Khan, said the issue was not an equipment shortage, but “irrational use of PPEs”. “The federal government has supplied at least three times the requested quantities, but due to irrational use and leakages they did not reach the right people,” he said.”