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Shaukat Ali Jawaid
 

Helplessness of the
Medical Profession

During my professional life of over fifty years, I have never seen the medical profession as helpless as one sees today. Some distinguished medical personalities like Prof. Abdul Bari Khan who runs the Indus Health Network, Dr. Saad Khalid Niaz a distinguished gastroenterologist, Dr. Tahir Shamsi from Karachi and Prof. Brig. Waheed-u-Zaman Tariq from Lahore the noted Hematologist and Virologist respectively, office bearers of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA), Young Doctors Association besides other professional bodies and NGOs working in the health sector have been telling the Government that we are heading for a major disaster if proper protective measures are not taken to check the COVID19 Pandemic but it all fell on deaf ears.

Sometimes they were accused of spreading fear and panic, working on the instructions of political opponents of the Government, serious allegations were also leveled against them but no heed was paid to seriously look at the ground realities. Now we are heading for a serious crisis with the number of COVCID19 infected cases increasing with the every passing day and the number of deaths are also increasing. Healthcare professionals working on the frontlines looking after the COVID19 patients are working heroically at a much greater risk to themselves as well as to their families who are living under constant fear and many of their family members are suffering from stress and psychological disorders. The number of healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses and paramedics who have lost their lives while serving the ailing humanity is also increasing and every new death of a HCP demoralizes the whole team. However, the public at large is not prepared to listen, they are not following the SOPs of wearing masks, observe social distancing. It appears as if they have decided to commit collective suicide.

Many of the distinguished healthcare professionals who are members of Task Forces and other Experts Groups formed by the Government have repeatedly reminded the government of their responsibilities to take effective measures in the meetings but the administration, it is said, says, they are helpless. If the traders threaten, government accepts their demands, if businessmen and transporters threaten, efforts are made to appease them. The government itself seems to be confused. What is the course left for the doctors? I talked to quite a few of them who are members of these government formed committees. They say, we give our opinion but it is not accepted. If we boycott these meetings and walk out, we will be blamed that we are not playing our role. If the doctors go on strike, they will be accused by everyone that they are not following the professional ethics of taking care of the sick and in need during these critical times. They seem to be helpless and do not hesitate to share their hopelessness as the situation stands today. According to reports a lot many healthcare professionals overseas have left the profession. Medical profession in Pakistan also seems to have a very bleak future. They are humiliated, maligned, they have to face character assassination through the media where everybody is prepared to share sweeping remarks about the diseases and their outcome without having any core knowledge. We often hear about the accountability of the Healthcare professionals but not of the patients who have certain Rights but they also have some Responsibilities. Time has come that some senior members of the medical profession sit together and chalk out a future strategy how to face this situation and give some friendly advice to the younger generation of healthcare professionals.

Tail Piece: The best properly equipped Isolation beds and quarantine facilities for COVID19 patients in Lahore are available at Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) which is evident from the fact that most of the patients wish to get admitted there. Not only that, according to a report appearing in Daily DAWN, admission at PKLI is possible only if the patient is recommended either by the Provincial Health Secretary or the Provincial Health Minister. PKLI, it may be mentioned here was the brain child of Prof. Saeed Akhtar a well-known Transplant Surgeon who built this facility with the patronage of former Chief Minister of Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif both of whom were humiliated by the former Chief Justice Mr. Justice Saqib Nisar. Later the government and the media continued the character assassination of Prof. Saeed Akhtar, who eventually had to leave this institution and Mian Shahbaz Sharif is also facing the music. This is the way we treat our benefactors. This is a lesson for others not to commit any such sin in future of building such a state of the art facility.

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