KARACHI: Fear and anxiety gripped health workers on Saturday when a senior doctor, who was active on the front line ever since the first case of coronavirus was reported and last week tested positive for Covid-19, was put on a ventilator after his condition deteriorated.
He was a former medical officer of the Pakistan Steel Mills and was tested positive for the virus earlier this week, health officials said and added that he was respected in the medical fraternity for his growing medical practice in different private facilities of Malir.
“He has a very good practice in Gulshan-i-Hadeed where hundreds of patients visit him daily in different hospitals,” said Dr Abdul Malik of the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (Pima). The doctor in question was also a former Sindh president of the association.
“Apart from his professional skills in health sciences, he is known as a socially active person in his district where people even from rural parts of the province came to see him. He was vigorously calling for PPE [personal protective equipment]. He tested positive because he was treating patients without PPE to honour the oath he had taken that he would not deny anyone care.”
Around a dozen members of medical fraternity have tested positive for coronavirus in Karachi in just a week
‘A wake-up call’
According to Dr Malik, the senior doctor was in his early 60s and battling for life on a ventilator at the Indus Hospital. The situation should be a wake-up call for authorities and they should speed up distribution of PPE among health professional and workers across the province, he added.
As the number of confirmed coronavirus patients continues to grow with most becoming victims of local virus transmission, the health workers have been increasingly more exposed to the threat as in just a week almost a dozen members of the medical fraternity in Karachi tested positive for the pandemic.
According to doctors, they are facing a lot of problems at work, severely affecting their mental health as well as the quality of work.
Govt urged to provide PPE
The worst-hit health facilities include government hospitals in Sukkur and Larkana, the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and two teaching hospitals, one in Hyderabad and the other in Jamshoro, attached with the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS).
The situation once again triggered fear among doctors, who keep on demanding immediate PPE supply.
“Not only from Karachi, we have been approached by doctors from every parts of the country who want PMA [Pakistan Medical Association] to play its role and talk to the government for PPE,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad of the PMA. “I believe that the health workers are doing a great service but they also need protection. I appeal to both the provincial and federal governments to provide these workers PPE who are exposed to the virus due to their professional contribution.”
An official said that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had informed Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting he participated in via video link that the province was facing serious shortage of PPE.
Also, the testing kits provided by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority had “accuracy issues”, which was why Sindh had opted not to use them, said the official quoting CM Shah’s concerns.
Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2020