Muhammad Zubair Shahid
Yesterday I was scrolling down my Facebook account, where I came across many videos posted by friends, news channels and page admins. While scrolling down I played one video posted by a news channel, it was a news about resignation of two senior doctors (Dr. Ayesha and Dr. Mazhar) serving in Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar. The doctors were performing their duties in ICU department and are well known for their sound professional repute.
The doctors claimed that facilities in the hospital are insufficient, are asked to work overtime and nursing care facilities are scant too. At the moment in ICU department only two specialized doctors are available and are overburdened due to spike in COVID-19 patient number. In the prevailing coronavirus crisis healthcare professionals are the frontline warriors against this unseen enemy of humanity.We have witnessed at the beginning of crisis many volunteered and treated virus infected patients, despite unavailability of personal protective equipment and other necessary facilities, for sure this is act of valor, courage, and patriotism.
Unfortunately, health sector never remained the priority of any government, with least focus on capacity building in terms of infrastructure, medical equipment and human capital. Population is growing at faster rate whereas capacity is not built to match thegrowth, which has resulted in poor and compromised health care facilities. Despite loud claims made by PTI government in Center, Punjab, KPK and Baluchistan there have been no improvement in healthcare facilities for last two years, rather existing facilities and services deteriorated. At the moment 10,000 posts of doctors are vacant in Punjab.No new specialized healthcare facility is built in KPK for last 7 years where PTI is ruling party
Healthcare professionals have been requesting the respective authorities for the provision of PPEs and protective gear which is one of the best defenses of healthcare professionals, on the other handGovernments claims that PPEs are provided to all hospitals but I can confirm based on my personal observation that these supplies are insufficient,N95 masks, face shields and googles are not provided to healthcare professionals performing duties in hospital emergencies and OPDs, doctors are wearing commonly available surgical masks.Healthcare professionals performing duties in ER and OPD departments are equally exposed to catch the infection as many infected patients can be asymptomatic. Currently PPE gear is provided to healthcare staff assigned duties in corona wards and quarantine facilities.
As a result, large number of health care professionals are getting infected and some of them have lost their lives fighting against the infection which includes very senior and renowned doctors of the country. As the number of patients are increasing by every passing day all healthcare professionals working in hospitals, quarantine facilities and field hospital are exposed and areat high risk of catching the infection, last week a lady doctor from a medical facility in Islamabad was tested positive for COVID-19, despite her symptoms prior to test she was not relived from duty and she had been examining the patients, yesterday senior surgeon in Karachi tested positive for coronavirus, In Lahore Services Hospital a patient underwent surgery without being tested for Coronavirus, post-surgery he started showing up symptoms upon testing his result was positive. These are very few examples actual scale can be much higher.The families of healthcare professionals are at very high risk. In Hyderabad a doctor from Red Crescent Hospital passed away due to corona infection and his wife and son were tested positive.
Keeping all aspects in consideration and nature of threat from coronavirus it is the responsibility of healthcare professionals to keep themselves, colleagues family and patients safe, they should ensure all safety measures are adopted before examining or treating patients, hospitals administration should ensure health and safety SOPs are followed, premises are disinfected on regular basis, healthcare staff is provided with all standard gear for personal safety, regular training sessions are conducted. Hospitals administration should ensure that hospitals are not over crowded with attendants and unnecessary people. Everyone should wear mask in hospital, hand sanitizers and disinfectants should be available at all locations. For major procedures which require hospital admission patients should be screened for COVID-19 so that contingencies can be avoided. Regular screening of healthcare staff should be conducted too. Government has announced that healthcare staff performing coronavirus related duties will be awarded risk allowance equivalent to one-month salary, this incentive should be awarded to all healthcare staff all of them are exposed to the risk. Health ministries of all four providence should expedite filling the vacant posts in hospitals to manage the burden of overloaded doctors.
By ensure these measures healthcare staff can be motivated, which is most important, if they are demotivated it will be impossible to continue the fight against coronavirus. I salute all the healthcare staff serving nation in these testing and hard times, risking their lives and their loved ones.
The Writer is a qualified accountant ACMA and CGMA from The Chartered Institute Of Management Accountants London UK.