COVID-19: YDA decries lack of facilities, safety gear in GB hospitals


Warns against a spike in coronavirus cases, due to shortage of testing facilities in Gilgit, presents 5-point charter of demand


Herald Report

Gilgit: Health workers and officials in Gilgit-Baltistan are racing against the clock to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus. With the number of COVID-19 cases rising the health professionals fighting the pandemic from the frontline are getting frustrated due to lukewarm response from the government.

According to reports, six more patients tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday pushing the total number to 115 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Young doctors have cautioned the GB government of spike in COVID-19 cases and expressed concern over the slow pace of testing due to lack of facilities.

“The situation is very alarming as only one PCR machine is available in Gilgit for the whole region,” an official of the YDA told The High Asia Herald, requesting not to be named.

“Only 10 to 15 tests are being done on a daily basis which is insufficient to cope with the influx of samples pouring in,” he added. Hundreds of samples are piling up in refrigerators of the PHQ, he said.

Dr Usama Riaz is perhaps the first health worker who died in the line of duty after contracting coronavirus in Gilgit. file photo

The PHQ is not receiving further samples which is a big challenge for all those who are on the frontline and treating patients.

He demanded an urgent arrangement of at least one PCR machine each for Nagar, Hunza, Baltistan, and Diamer.

He also demanded the government to arrange short courses for lab technicians in PCR testing to expedite the most crucial process on a daily basis.

Currently, many suspects and confirmed cases have been kept in isolation and quarantine centres who are awaiting their tests to be done.

About the process of verifying a test result, he said two consecutive negative PCR tests are mandatory before declaring a suspect of COVID-19 by healthy.

He urged the GB government to work on this critical issue on an urgent basis so that the diagnosis and treatment of patients could be done timely.

He also urged the military-run CMH and Aga Khan Health Services to play their role in easing the burden on public health infrastructure.

YDA-Health Dept row

The YDA and health department officials had been at loggerheads over the longstanding demands of the health professionals.

Last week the transfer of YDA President Ejaz Ayub to Nagar District after addressing a press conference and the death of Dr Usama Riaz worsened the situation and the young health professional registered a strong protest.

However, the health department officials held talks with YDA and Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) representatives and assured them that their demands will be met.

Dr Ijaz Ayub, President of the YDAGB, general secretary Dr Fida, spokesman Dr Fazal, Senior Vice President Dr Sohail presented a five-point charter of demand included declaring Dr Osama Riaz a national hero, naming a hospital after him and payment of compensation to his family, The CoD also included regularization of all contract doctors, life insurance and risk allowance to all health workers who are fighting on the frontline against corona pandemic.

They also demanded provision of better facilities including ventilators, oxygen plants, and cylinders, ICU masks, CPAP, BiPAP, machines for the treatment of patients affected by the coronavirus and maintenance of CT scan machines at all hospitals provision of protective masks and kits for all doctors, paramedical staff and volunteers.

The charter of demands also included the formation of committees of doctors and paramedics to manage the hospitals, a doctors’ body in all COVID-19-hit areas.

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