SALUTING OUR HEREOS – THE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

Dedicated to our brave heroes who paid the ultimate price while serving humanity. Dr. Osama Riaz  in Gilgit Baltistan and the entire healthcare givers community.

COVID-19 is a global tsunami. It has hit the two power engines driving the world. USA and China. It nearly derailed their way of life and their economies. China has a handle on the situation and USA is still besieged. Despite all the resources and technology, US is struggling with ways to contain this monster known as COVID-19. Pakistan needs to step out of its self complementary mode, believing we have a low infection count. The fact is you have not tested enough. It is an emergency and should be treated as such.

In a tsunami advance warnings are possible. The sensible board up and move to safer grounds. The ignorant, like stupid surfers continue to enjoy the rising waves. They are oblivious that this tide will blow them to smithereens. We see similar scenes in Pakistan and many other densely populated countries.

I was shocked to see visuals making rounds on media. A cluster of 50 guys reaching over each other to buy “samosas”. A gathering of hundreds of notables sitting in close proximity at the Governor House for oath taking of Punjab’s new Chief Justice. Stupidity has no borders like Corona Virus. Educated or otherwise.

The virus of ignorance does not stop there. It permeates serious levels of religious clergy. Sitting in a Mogul garden setting, looking very pious, they proclaimed that prayer congregations will continue. How bad does it get? Their words jarred my rational mind. FYI COVID-19 has no religion, it is a non-believer. An infected devotee will pass it to the next person, no matter how pious. South Korea’s cluster started from a Church gathering.

Our Holy Prophet, peace be upon Him, promoted “Hikmat”, translates as wisdom and  rationale. He would urge Sahabah to pray at home when it rained. Woe on us for listening to these modern day false claimants to this exalted legacy. Their religious “Uncles” in Saudi Arabia and Iran have restricted such gatherings.

It is an invisible enemy that does not discriminate. COVID-19 has hit the royals, celebrities, sports icons and the common man. It is focusing on the elders; yet not sparing the younger generation. From a new born baby to a 94 year old senior. The only way to survive and come out unharmed is to follow three simple prevention techniques. Avoid close contact and practice social distancing. Do not touch exposed hard surfaces. Wash hands with soap each time you step outside and don’t touch your face till then.

Simple yet unimplemented. China and Korea blunted the spread by enforcing these precautions. Pakistan’s efforts on media are not bearing results. Given the size of our population and the lethal nature of this virus, I foresee dark days ahead unless bold corrective measures are taken. There can be, God forbid, a severe outbreak leading to paralysis of the health system or a serious clampdown. Army taking a lead role and possibly curfews. It’s being done in neighboring India. Our undisciplined hordes need a stick.

Amidst all this madness, our Pakistani health care givers are waging a selfless war against this ruthless invader of the human body. They are ill equipped, short on test kits, protective gear, overworked and unappreciated for the sacrifices they are making. In a battle you have an idea of the direction from which the bullets come; you have a front, a rear and flanks. In battling COVID-19 these professional are fighting an invisible enemy.

Each patient is a potential risk whether they show any symptoms or not. I salute the bravery and dedication of our healthcare workers, medics, paramedics and other staff. They are fighting on two fronts. Demanding but not getting resources, and yet dealing with scores of patients. They deserve our support. They are demoralized and many are on the verge of giving up. There is an immediate need to increase awareness of their sacrifices in a bold and loud voice. The 27th March event recognizing these unsung heroes is a great step in that direction. But words are not enough.

There are three essentials for protection. Masks and sanitizers, protective gear and ventilators/respirators. I urge the Government to get out of this “we have patients and we don’t” mode and be proactive. They need to divert our existing manufacturing base to join this effort as a national cause or through use of emergency powers.

Improvisation is required. We have a huge and vibrant stitching and surgical industry. They should be directed to make masks and protective clothes. Ventilators require expertise. Get the drawing out of creative innovators in Gujranwala, Gujrat and Sialkot. They can produce components put together by Wah or other engineering firms.

We have many distilleries. Like in USA and Canada, they can be directed to provide alcohol based sanitizers and cleaning fluids.

“Necessity is the mother of invention”, goes the English proverb depicting these times. Prime Minister Imran Khan needs to take charge of this challenge like he did when he went on the streets to raise funds for Shaukat Khanum. He should ignore his flaky advisors.

Leaders define their legacy in dealing with crisis. IK please do it to safeguard our unsheltered health professionals. They deserve it. This will also prepare us for the lurking demons of an outright explosion of this infection. The figure of a 1000+ cases is totally deceptive; please don’t be fooled by it. There are thousands of infected carriers that have not been tested, by the time the symptoms show up it will be too late for many. The time to act is now!

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