PESHAWAR: The deadly Covid-19 has been proven paradoxically to be a blessing in disguise for general patients and government as doctors haven’t observed any strike during the pandemic despite facing longstanding problems.
“We have very pressing issues for the resolution of which we are requesting the health department from time to time but there is no response. Before the outbreak of Covid-19, we have to observe strike and close down the hospitals but for the past one year, we have been performing our duty, especially to deal with the virus,” Dr Zubair Zahir, the chairman of Provincial Doctors Association, told Dawn.
He said that the association was under tremendous pressure to go on strike to press the government for solution of the problems of doctors but as far as the Covid-19 was around, the health professionals wouldn’t leave their places of duties.
Pandemic keeps doctors from going on strike over pressing issues
A latest report by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (MNHSR&C) Islamabad said that Covid-19 infected 14,484 healthcare providers in the country and 3,279 of them belonged to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The infected healthcare providers include 1,502 doctors, 1,312 paramedics and 465 nurses but they continue to perform their duty.
“Of the infected people, 94 per cent have recovered and perform their duty as usual. The Peshawar-based hospitals are home to 90 per cent of Covid-19 patients, but our staff is bravely taking part in their management,” said the PDA chief. He added that the government should realise their spirit and move forward with regard to mitigating their problems.
The MNHSR&C report said that 139 healthcare providers had died of Covid-19 during the past one year. Of them, 88 were doctors and 47 of them belonged to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it added.
Dr Zubair said that despite heavy toll suffered by medics, there was no looking back for his colleagues and they worked hard in hospitals despite looming threat of infection. “Since the Covid-19 emergency, we have decided to serve the patients with devotion,” he added.
He said that they could observe strike anytime because the health department was not paying attention to their problems, but it would be against professional ethics and patients would suffer. Promotion of general cadre doctors had been pending for the last three years but there were few observations from the finance department and the health department was required to address the same and pave way for promotion doctors to the next grades.
Dr Zubair said that promotion of district specialists and dental surgeons was another demand on which the government had been dragging feet for more than three years. “The management cadre doctors face the same situation and we are asking the government to take up the cases of promotions at the earliest,” he added.
He said they asked the department to issue schedule for training of doctors required for promotion to higher grades. He said that the doctors weren’t being promoted for lack of the desired training only because of the department, which was to provide the opportunities.
He said the other pressing demand of PDA was to provide residences to doctors near the health facilities they were working in. It would enable the medics to perform round-the-cloak duty and serve the emergency and non-emergency patients in a timely manner, he added.
“The residences in the hospitals are under occupation of people from other departments due to which the doctors cannot stay for night and as result, patients suffer. We demand of the department to evict the illegal occupants of the residential places in the hospitals to accommodate the doctors,” he said.
Dr Zubair said that they were happy to serve the patients during Covid-19 as it was their foremost duty. “We are also thankful to the people that they have recognised our services during the pandemic,” he added.
Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2021