Doctors’ associations angry at govt for ‘ignoring’ Covid-19 heroes in civil awards

Published August 26, 2021
Medics in hazmat suits are seen working at the Covid-19 ward of Lahore’s Mayo Hospital. — Aun Jafri/White Star
Medics in hazmat suits are seen working at the Covid-19 ward of Lahore’s Mayo Hospital. — Aun Jafri/White Star

KARACHI: Doctors’ representative bodies have expressed shock and concern over the government which did not recognise the services of the country’s healthcare providers during the Covid-19 pandemic in the recently announced Pakistan Civil Awards.

The civil awards for 126 people, including foreign nationals, were announced by the president on Aug 14.

In the health sector, the list has only the name of Dr Shehla Baqi (from Karachi), and the services of Dr Mohammad Haroon Memon (also a medical doctor from Sindh) were recognised in the field of social work.

The investiture ceremony would take place on Pakistan Day (March 23) next year.

“We are shocked over the government’s callous attitude towards healthcare workers for ignoring them while conferring civil awards despite their unrivalled services during the deadly Covid-19 pandemic,” said a Pakistan Medical Association statement.

Healthcare workers, it said, had been serving the nation courageously as front-line soldiers since the pandemic reached Pakistan in February 2020.

“They have put their lives at risk. Their families remain at risk. So far, 221 doctors have attained martyrdom due to Covid-19; Punjab 78, Sindh 77, KP 56, Balochistan 6, Gilgit-Baltistan 1, Azad Jammu & Kashmir 3. Thirty-one paramedics have attained martyrdom due to Covid-19,” it said.

The association called upon the government to recognise the Covid-19 heroes still fighting the war and announce civil awards for the medical fraternity immediately.

It also deplored that the government had not offered any financial support to the families of doctors and paramedics who lost their lives to Covid-19.

“Both federal and Sindh governments are yet to implement the [Shuhada] Package they announced for aggrieved families last year. We also demand that the government collect data of these families and offer them employment opportunities in the public sector.”

Earlier, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (Pima) shared similar concerns.

“Leading figures from all walks of life have been honoured with the civil award with some 18 personalities from showbiz. But martyred doctors, nurses and paramedics have been completely ignored.

“Unfor­tu­nate­­ly, this has happened at a time when a doctor is holding the post of president,” said a Pima statement.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2021

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