KARACHI: The Covid-19 risk allowance being granted to professionals working under the health department has been discontinued, a Sindh government notification released on Friday stated.
According to the notification, the order will be effective from October 1.
“Considering the weakening severity of Covid-19 pandemic in the province, the risk allowance (being) granted to the personnel of health department vide finance department’s order dated June 6, 2020, and dated July 9, 2020, is hereby discontinued with effect from October 1, 2020,” says the notification.
Under the previous order, the department was giving Rs17,000 to Rs35,000 risk allowance to health professionals, according to their grade.
Reacting to the order, Sindh Doctors’ Alliance (SDA) announced that doctors wouldn’t follow standard operating procedures (SOPs), including wearing of face masks and gloves, at health facilities.
“The government must stop playing with us. It should have consulted us over this issue,” said Dr Mohammad Ali representing the SDA, insisting that it’s not about the money health professionals were getting but rather their dignity.
When asked whether non-compliance with SOPs is against their medical ethics that would also put patients at risk, Dr Ali couldn’t give a satisfactory answer.
“We are not stopping patients from wearing face masks. Why should we wear face masks when the government is announcing that the Covid-19 risk is over,” he asked.
Dr Mirza Ali Azhar heading Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Sindh chapter, disagreed with this approach. “It’s true that the severity of Covid-19 has significantly reduced but the government should have consulted representative bodies of doctors on this issue for the sake of good relations with health professionals. The SDA’s decision, however, is absolutely unwise.”
According to him, doctors should have opted for other means to protest the government order.
“Opting for outpatient departments’ closure or demonstrating non-compliance [with] SOPs against the Covid-19 pandemic are against medical norms and ethics. Doctors must never compromise on their professional duties.”
It may be recalled that the government had notified the Covid-19 health risk allowance on the demand of medical bodies after a large number of health professionals contracted the infection and died in many cases.
Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2020