60% of healthcare workers dissatisfied with government’s COVID-19 policy

Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and Gallup Pakistan published the results of a new survey on Friday according to which 60% of healthcare workers in Pakistan are dissatisfied with the country's response to novel coronavirus. The same survey stated that 39% of the healthcare workers are happy with the country's strategy in battling the pandemic.

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Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and Gallup Pakistan published the results of a new survey on Friday according to which 60% of healthcare workers in Pakistan are dissatisfied with the country’s response to novel coronavirus.  The same survey stated that 39% of the healthcare workers are happy with the country’s strategy in battling the pandemic.

Among those who expressed dissatisfaction with the response to the COVID-19 challenge, 65% are doctors and health professionals from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Yesterday, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country jumped to 259,999 after 2,085 new infections were reported during the last 24 hours.

According to the national dashboard, there are 110,068 cases in Sindh, 89,023 in Punjab, 31,486 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 11,385 in Balochistan, 14,454 in Islamabad, 1,775 Gilgit-Baltistan and 1,808 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The country also recorded 49 fatalities in the last 24 hours taking the nationwide death toll to 5,475.

The number of recoveries from coronavirus currently stands at 183,737.

Recently, the Punjab government has accepted the resignation of 48 doctors at teaching hospitals across Punjab. According to a notice by the Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education (SHCME) Department, dated June 27, those who stepped down had tendered in their resignations at various times this year.

Read More: 75% rise in Infections among Pakistani healthcare workers

Notably, some healthcare workers in Pakistan had already sent their resignations to the authorities concerned even before the deadly pandemic. According to the details, of the 48 to have resigned, 11 had handed in their resignation letters before Pakistan reported its first coronavirus case on February 26, 2020. The resignations tendered in by dozens of others, however, come amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with more than 230,000 infections and over 4,700 deaths recorded in Pakistan.

42 doctors confirmed dead, healthcare workers in Pakistan?

Doctors remain the most affected among the healthcare providers in Pakistan from the coronavirus disease, with officials confirming 42 have died so far battling the pandemic.

“We have so far lost the lives of 58 healthcare workers in Pakistan to COVID-19 in the country and still counting. They are 42 doctors, 13 paramedics and other support staff, two nurses and one medical student,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) told The News, Pakistan’s respect English language newspaper, on Wednesday.

The official said at least 22 healthcare workers in Sindh lost their lives to the respiratory disease, while 11 had died in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 10 in Punjab, seven in Balochistan, five in Islamabad, and three in Gilgit-Baltistan. Luckily, no healthcare provider has died in Azad Kashmir.

The official said that by June 30, as many as 5,367 healthcare providers had contracted the viral infection, which was 3% of the national count of coronavirus patients in Pakistan.

Read More: Growing coronavirus cases among health workers in Pakistan; a major reason to worry!

Some 2,798 had been cured — which was 52% of the total cases — but 2,569 or 48% of healthcare providers were still under treatment at hospitals or were in self-isolation at their homes, he noted. “Doctors are the most affected segment of healthcare providers as 61% or 3,275 of them have so far contracted the viral infection, followed by 1,453 paramedics, which are 27% of the total healthcare providers infected with the lethal virus,” the health ministry official said. “Around 639 nurses are also among them, which is 12% of the total cases,” the official added.

Doctors won’t perform duties if SOPs are not implemented

As healthcare workers in Pakistan are dissatisfied, Dr Ammar, President of Young Doctors Association (YDA), held a press conference and said that the doctors will not accept protocol treatment to any bureaucrat or politician, they will be treated like other citizens.

As healthcare workers in Pakistan are facing problems, the YDA official also warned that the doctors will stay away from the duty if the promised risk allowance not paid within a week. “The risk allowance should be paid to all healthcare professionals,” he further said.

Dr Ammar said that the doctors won’t duty at out-patient departments (OPDs), if the standard operating procedures (SOPs) not enforced there. “Over 100 health professionals including 60 doctors have been affected by the coronavirus, for God’s sake take care of the health professionals” he said. “The government wants to put the burden of its failure on doctors,” YDA official said.

He urged the government to recruit doctors on adhoc basis to run the coronavirus wards in hospitals. “Government’s every decision with regard to coronavirus has proved wrong and its ministers are speaking trash,” Dr Ammar said. He also claimed that the 1400 billion rupees coronavirus fund not being utilized appropriately.

Read More: In Pakistan, why are women the hardest hit by the pandemic?

It is yet to be seen as to how does the government deal with the healthcare workers in Pakistan’s demands amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly maintained that his government will fully cooperate with doctors and paramedics.

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