All over the world, people and governments are supporting the front line workers in this pandemic: the healthcare workers. In Pakistan, however, our doctors and medical personnel continue to face harassment.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has urged the Punjab government to “heed the legitimate demands of the young doctors on strike in Punjab. The country’s need for medical personnel in the midst of a public health crisis does not override their right to occupational health and safety. Nor does it justify the high-handedness of the police who attempted to quell the strike by force. Several grievances put forward by representatives of the Grand Health Alliance are cause for serious concern. They have claimed that public hospitals have sorely inadequate Coronavirus screening facilities for medical personnel, and that the health ministry disburses personal protective equipment (PPE) only to those doctors and nurses who work in the Coronavirus isolation wards. However, all medical personnel remain vulnerable so long as they are working in any part of any hospital. The striking doctors have also complained that the wards used to house infected colleagues are abysmal, reflecting even more poorly on the conditions in patient wards. It is also worrying to hear doctors say that they fear their jobs may be terminated allegedly at the behest of the health ministry if they speak to the media about their concerns. All these concerns must be addressed promptly and fairly if the long fight against this pandemic is to be successful.”