See the special coverage of Global Voices one the global impact of COVID-19.
On April 6, 2020, health workers staged a protest in Quetta, the capital of the province of Balochistan, to demand more personal protective equipment (PPE). The Police responded with batons against the protesters and arrested about 150 protesters.
There are more than 4,000 coronavirus patients in Pakistan, and health professionals are working with the limited resources at their disposal. While doctors working directly with coronavirus-infected patients receive PPE, medical staff caring for patients with other diseases report that they are forced to work without sufficient protection. As of April 10, there were 18 infected doctors in the province while carrying out their duties.
The whole world is saluting the doctors for their contribution & fight against corona. In Quetta, Pakistan, they r tortured, arrested & humiliated jst 4 demanding protection kits. #Sharmnak@mazdaki @GulBukhari pic.twitter.com/TD0YO4FAW5
– Zarak khan (@zarak_khaan) April 6, 2020
The whole world salutes the doctors for their contribution and fight against the coronavirus. In Quetta, Pakistan, they are tortured, arrested and humiliated just for asking for protective gear.
During a devastating pandemic, only Pakistan can be the country imprisoning doctors because they were demanding protective equipment for their safety. pic.twitter.com/KlP8zLktkk
– Aliza Ansari (@aliza__ansari) April 6, 2020
During a devastating pandemic, only Pakistan can be the country that imprisons doctors for demanding protective equipment for their safety.
Journalist Aroosa Shaukat tweeted:
What a sorry display of governance in Balochistan right now. Doctors being arrested for protesting over government's failure to provide them PPEs to treat Covid-19 patients. So very sad images coming from Quetta
– Aroosa Shaukat (@AroosaShaukat) April 6, 2020
What an unfortunate display of management in Baluchistan at the moment. Doctors arrested for protesting that the government does not provide them with PPE to treat COVID-19 patients. Very sad images come from Quetta.
In response to the arrests, the Balochistan Young Doctors Association announced a strike by the non-critical care wards in the province. Due to pressure, the arrested doctors were released on the afternoon of Monday, April 6, and only withdrew from the police station when agents assured them that they would be provided with PPE. On April 7, the doctors ended the strike after the provincial government agreed to deliver PPE and extend the contracts of 533 doctors.
Dr. Zafar Mirza, the Prime Minister's special health assistant, condemned the treatment of doctors and assured the population that the protection of medical personnel was the Government's top priority.
As part of the Pakistani government's efforts to provide supplies and equipment, China agreed to offer emergency support to Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad. The Japanese government has also offered its support in health supplies.
The Pakistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANMD) has continued to provide medical supplies of PPE and screenings, some of which have already arrived from China. On April 7, the Pakistani Army also dispatched emergency medical supplies to Balochistan for direct distribution to health facilities.
Emergency supplies of medical equipment including PPEs being despatched to Quetta on orders of COAS to help medical staff fight Covid-19 effectively in Balochistan. “Doctors & paramedics are the frontline soldiers in this war…” (1/2)
– DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) April 7, 2020
Emergency medical supplies including EPP are dispatched to Quetta under orders from the chief of staff to help medical personnel effectively fight COVID-19 in Balochistan. “Doctors and paramedics are the front line in this war …”
Medical personnel are the front line in the fight against COVID-19, putting them at considerable risk of contagion. The same occurs in the rest of the country and, so far, two doctors have died in Pakistan. Global Voices spoke with Dr. Nauman, an anesthesiologist at the Central District Hospital in the city of Dera Ghazi Khan, after being infected with the virus:
We have been working with insufficient kits, inappropriate quarantine facilities, and the kits are not up to WHO standards. There are about fourteen staff members including doctors, effected by the virus. The Government was responding to our needs, however, in the last two days there seems to be some communication gap between the hospital and Government officials.
We have been working with insufficient implements, inadequate quarantine facilities, and equipment not meeting WHO standards. About 14 staff members, including doctors, have been affected by the virus. The Government has responded to our needs, but in the past two days there appears to have been a communication gap between the hospital and government officials.
Social networks have been flooded with tributes to the country's doctors and health workers. However, many point out that, more than tributes, what they need is protection tools and adequate infrastructure to fight the virus.
Ministers ’children play with corona relief kits while doctors and nurses perform duty without kits.
One Not Two Pakistan…
– Dr.Arooba TariQ (@Official_Arooba) April 7, 2020
The minister's children play with emergency equipment while doctors and nurses work without tools.
One Pakistan, not two …