HEALTH professionals are not satisfied with the handling of Covid-19, both technically and politically, by the federal and provincial governments.

Instead of serving the purpose, the lockdown created fear, creating an impression among people that it will remain imposed unless the virus transmission is stopped or vaccine is available.

The actual usefulness of lockdown is meant to be a time-dependent approach to achieve the following realistic objectives: protecting health facilities from overloading, and providing the time needed to strengthen and scaling-up existing health facilities at basic, secondary and tertiary levels.

It should be for establishing new facilities, developing supply chains for testing kits, personal protective equipment, training doctors, paramedics and staff, educating the public about precautions, disseminating information to public about nearest testing and treatment centres.

Once the above objectives are achieved, gradual re-opening should have been done, and this would not have taken more than six to eight weeks, including inspection of readiness in the agriculture, corporate, industry, transport and retail sectors.

Clear and precise messaging was overtaken by ‘corona politics’, long presentations on TV and tit-for-tat press conferences, which did not make the public believe that the objectives would be achieved in six to eight weeks. The public was not told they should not panic, the government would ensure food security, provide cash to those in need and the State Bank of Pakistan will support money markets.

Our health services remain too fragile to cope with the present crisis, and a golden opportunity was wasted.

Dr Jehanzeb Mughal

Karachi

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020