PIMA disputes Govt. claims of providing PPEs, other protective equipment to Healthcare Professionals


Hundreds of HCPs have got infected, tested positive and some have
lost their lives
PIMA disputes Govt. claims of providing
PPEs, other protective equipment to
Healthcare Professionals
Calls for Health Emergency, ensuring adequate
supply of PPEs to HCPs, safety of doctors, nurses,
paramedics treating COVID19 patients
PM urged to sanction Rs. 5 Billion for PPEs which
should be distributed through PMA, PIMA, and other
professional bodies, NGOs involved in managing
patients and not through Government agencies

Karachi: Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) and Young Doctors Association Karachi, has disputed the Government claim of providing PPEs, other protective equipment to the healthcare professionals managing the COVID19 patients at healthcare facilities all over the country. Had it been so, scores of doctors, nurses, paramedics would not have been infected and numerous units, OTs would not have been closed all over Pakistan after the staff being infected and tested positive. Healthcare professionals, PIMA office bearers added are working under very difficult circumstances, they themselves as well as their families are at a greater risk and they are going through lot of stress and strain.

Addressing a press conference here on June 3, 2020 they pointed out that despite the fact that the government got couple of months’ time to make necessary arrangements but it has miserably failed. It urged the government functionaries to come out of their air-conditioned offices, visit the healthcare facilities to know the ground realities which will prove that their tall claims are not matched with facts. In the press conference PIMA specifically talked about the situation in Sindh Province in general and Karachi in particular. The Government of Sindh has taken some measures, we do not deny that but it falls much short of the requirements. Patients are seen begging for ICU beds running from one hospital to other.

The press conference was addressed by former Presidents of PIMA Prof. Misbah ul Aziz, Prof Sohail Akhtar, Prof. Jalal Akbar President-Elect PPA Sindh, Dr. Fayyaz Alam General Secretary Dua Foundation, Prof. Shuja Farrukh President PSORL Sindh Chapter and Dr. Azra Jamil. They demanded that:

  1. Immediate declaration and implementation of Medical EMERGENCY in SINDH
  2. Ensure STRICT possible implementation of the SOPs by people at public places and making use of MASK mandatory for everyone.
  3. Ensure SAFETY AND SECURITY of hospital premises and staff that includes, doctors, nurses and paramedics
  4. Make BEDS AVAILABLE with best health facilities for COVID affected healthcare professionals as there is no dedicated facility available yet. This needs to be increased on a war footing.
  5. Ensure PGs and residents get BONUSES equal to government employees by relevant universities / authorities
  6. Make DASHBOARD on beds and ventilators’ availability public as nothing has been done so far despite of pledges from Sindh government.
  7. Arrange talks officially on electronic media to forcefully DEBUNK MYTHS conspiracy theories on COVID 19
  8. Ensure UNINTERRUPTED supply of PPEs to medical personnel at every level. Doctors still face lot of challenges in accessing protective equipment. PIMA in collaboration with DUA foundation and YDA is doing its level best to make these available. So far PKR 10 million worth of PPEs have been distributed.
  9. Plan immediately to make dedicated COVID hospital as done in other countries to cater increasing number of patients and in anticipation of second wave of COVID 19 patients.
  10. Government should utilize Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) for this purpose and also tell the exact status of the announced NIPA hospital.
  11. Constitute a Committee to make impartial investigation of Gadap isolation center failure.
  12. The government should timely and effectively curb misleading propaganda circulating on social media, blocking all websites and social media posts that are misleading the public and harassing health care workers and consequently causing them mental and physical abuse.

Prof. Misbah ul Aziz also disclosed that almost 34% of COVID19 patients were in Karachi. The number of infected positive cases before Ramadan were just 12,500 with two hundred seventy deaths which soon after Ramadan has increased to over eighty thousand infected cases and the death has also crossed sixteen hundred. This shows a five times increase in just one month. This is because of the relaxation announced at the time of Eid and the public failure to follow the SOPS, he remarked. The number of ventilators available in the province of Sindh for Corona patients were very few and it should not be confused with the total number of ventilators many of which are being used for patients suffering from other serious diseases. The number of healthcare professionals being infected in Pakistan was much more as compared to many other countries. We have time and again pointed out these difficulties but so far it has fallen on deaf dears. Doctors have the option to go on strike but then it will deprive the patients of whatever care they are getting, hence we do not wish to resort to such measures. However, it is the duty of the government to provide security to the healthcare professionals treating the COVID19 patients. Instead of issuing confusing statements which has lead the public to believe that COVID19 is not a serious diseases, the government must increase testing facilities, make wearing of mask mandatory.

Giving details of the beds and ventilators for COVID19 patients in Karachi, Prof. Sohail Akhtar that there were twelve healthcare facilities where COVID19 patients are being managed. According to government claim there are 433 Isolation beds out of which three hundred are occupied. But they do not point out that almost 140 beds not in use were at Leyari General Hospital. Since there are no proper facilities no one is getting admitted there. There are 259 High Dependency Unit Beds of which we are told 241 are occupied. There are only one hundred forty seven critical lifesaving beds of which one hundred fifteen are occupied. In most of the ICU beds, ventilator facility is not available. At Indus Hospital where I work, there are fifteen ventilators of which nine are occupied and six are kept in reserve as they can be needed any time in emergency. Almost 80% of critical beds are occupied. If beds with proper facilities were available in interior of ‘Sindh, why patients would be coming to Karachi for admission, he asked.

He also doubted the NDMA claim that only 25% of ventilators available at present were occupied. Some of the ventilators are kept for other emergencies and they are not available for COVID19 patients. Doctors working in Emergency are under tremendous pressure as patients are waiting for ventilators. He also urged the Sindh Government to immediately prepare a DASH Board which should give details of all the healthcare facilities, beds, ventilators available, occupied, where the patients can be referred in case of emergency. We are now advising patients on home isolation and the number of these patients now all over Pakistan runs in thousands. We need more isolation beds and more facilities. Referring to the Isolation Centre established at EXPO Centre Karachi, Prof. Sohail Akhtar said it had one thousand beds of which only 520 are functional and seventy five are occupied. We can no more refer the COVID19 patients to EXPO Isolation Centre in view of the disappointing experience, he remarked.

Prof. Jalal Akbar said that now children are also getting infected and fatal cases in Paediatric patients are also being reported. At present there are about sixteen hundred patients under the age of ten years just because of the rush at shopping malls just before Eid due to relaxation in lockdown. He urged the public to discourage movement of children. It is an alarming situation and immunization of children should also not get affected. He pointed out that death of a doctor from COVID19 also demoralized the whole team, hence it is essential that we encourage the healthcare professionals looking after these patients at great personal risk to themselves as well as their families. Special arrangements should be made for those HCPs who get infected for their care and they should also be offered some financial benefit through relief package.

Dr. Fayyaz Alam urged the Prime Minister to sanction a special package of Rs. Five Billion for PPEs and other protective equipment which should be distributed through PMA, PIMA, and NGOs involved in managing these patients on the ground and not through government agencies. Prof. Shuja Farrukh supported the views expressed by his colleagues and called upon the government to provide special facilities to HCPs looking after the COVID19 patients. Dr. Azra Jamil representing Female wing of PIMA urged the government to listen to health experts and do not prove to be deaf and dumb, increase testing facilities and take measures to improve the facilities for patients admitted at various centers.