Worldwide, health professionals including doctors, nurses and paramedics have been at the forefront in the battle against the coronavirus. In Italy, 23 doctors lost their lives while treating coronavirus patients recently.
Dr. Usama Riaz, a young doctor lost his life while treating coronavirus patients in Gilgit-Baltistan a few days back. There are unconfirmed reports about two doctors in Quetta contracting the deadly virus. Their cases are yet to be officially confirmed.
The virus has claimed more than 22,000 lives globally and infected over 5,00,000 people in over 190 countries of the globe. Pakistan has so far confirmed nine deaths with more than 1200 positive cases of the deadly virus.
In Balochistan, the health sector was already in a miserable condition. The coronavirus has put another major challenge before Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan-led government. Since the outbreak of the pandemic globally, the doctors on duty in Quetta have been demanding protective equipment to treat the coronavirus patients.
The Young Doctors Association (YDA) through a press conference had demanded of the government to provide protective equipment to doctors treating coronavirus patients and shut down all OPDs to halt the spread of the virus.
The doctors are exposed to the virus since they are in direct contact with coronavirus patients or suspected patients. Since Balochistan’s rural areas have no proper health facilities, therefore, most of the people come for treatment to Quetta’s largest Bolan medical hospital, Fatima Jinnah Chest and TB hospital and civil hospital.
Every patient is in direct contact with doctors. And the doctors are now frightened of every patient because of the coronavirus. The YDA’s demand was genuine that all male and female doctors serving in the province should be provided with protective equipment.
Doctors proved to be frontline soldiers against the pandemic, therefore, their demands must be met as early as possible, particularly about the provision of protective equipment. The number of doctors across Balochistan is stated to be around 5000, which is less in number to make sure provision of health facilities to 12.3 million population excluding the Afghan refugees.
Hundreds of vacancies are lying vacant in the health department for a long time. The department needs to expedite the process of recruitment of doctors to tackle the situation developed after the outbreak of coronavirus. appointments of doctors appear to be indispensable in the prevailing situation to cope with this emergency situation.
All senior and junior doctors have closed their hospitals and clinics in Quetta in the wake of the outbreak of coronavirus. Chief Minister Jam Kamal who has been playing an active role in the battle against the virus must take all senior serving and retired doctors on board to evolve a workable health policy to tackle the situation.
The trust of doctors, nurses and paramedics should be restored. And first, they should be protected from the pandemic. Doctors, nurses, paramedics and all health professionals have been battling against the virus from the frontline. So they have to be heard, helped and encouraged in this battle.
Social distancing, lockdown, creating awareness, this can be the joint work of government, civil society, political parties, media, etc. The government must provide protective equipment to doctors without any further delay and make sure appointments of hundreds of doctors on an emergency basis to cope with the situation before it is too late.