Covid 19, Opinions

Letter to the Editor: Front-line Healthcare Women Professionals of Pakistan Regarding COVID-19

Dear Editor,

We, the frontline women health care workers, medical students, nurses and doctors of Pakistan are here to share our expert opinion about the COVID19 pandemic. In our role as women in science, we are making these recommendations for the public as well as policymakers and government.

For all Pakistanis, who are struggling financially and emotionally please understand that COVID19 is real and needs us all to be working alongside each other rather than against each other, to get through these dark times. This virus has disrupted everyone’s lives and taken away many loved ones and is difficult, so please:

  1. Trust and respect your healthcare providers. We are here to help you while we are risking our lives. These are challenging times and not being able to meet with your loved ones or be near them as they pass is no less than a calamity. The chances of this can be decreased by following the precautions outlined. Please know that your healthcare providers are helping you, risking their health while trying to protect you. Breaking equipment, verbally and physically threatening helps no one.
  2. Please follow SOPs and regulations. These are there to help you from getting infected yourself and spreading it to others. Avoid leaving home by possibly using the phone and online services. If you must, kindly refrain from overcrowding shops and other public places. Wash your hands before leaving and after returning. Every trip outside is a risk to you and your fellow citizens.
  3. Always wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth, when out in public. Do not touch your eyes, face, nose, or mask. Please do not pull your mask down below your nose- that makes it ineffective. If you have a reusable mask, wash your mask daily.
  4. If you have a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, self-isolate- do not hide your diagnosis. Accept and help people with COVID19 get medical care and safely isolate at home- do not ostracize or throw them out of their flats. We are all in this together.
  5. Believe only authentic sources of information from Infectious Diseases experts.
  6. Accept the fact that the pandemic is real. The patients getting infected are real and this disease can cause death. This is not a hoax. The essential reasons to leave the home are Essential jobs, buying medicine. groceries (if not possible online, assign 1 person from your household to go every time).

We all are in this together!

From our civil services, police, local and federal governments. We ask for:

  1. Re-Implementation of a physical lockdown in Pakistan until the new cases start to plateau out. Enable and facilitate e-commerce where possible and for daily wagers government should ensure door to door supply to them of essentials (instead of crowded distribution areas). Current ‘smart’ lockdown is just reopening as per usual. Implementation of isolation and distancing SOPs with consistency is key. Same rules for all. Be firm but respectful. Laws and rules matter only if implemented, without exception.
  2. Police officers are on the frontlines and we appreciate their service, please provide them with the support to safely implement SOPs.
  3. The immediate closure of all shopping malls, shopping centres, beauty parlours, gyms, salons, public transport, trains etc. Ensure no more than 4 customers in any shop at any time.
  4. Quality check of locally available sanitizers.
  5. Public Education videos in Urdu and local languages explaining in simple detail the importance of wearing a mask and practising physical social distancing. With better understanding comes better compliance.
  6. Protection and resources for women domestic workers, abuse victims, for whom this lockdown brings so many challenges.

It is only with consistency, knowledge, and collaboration with healthcare workers that we can emerge through these challenging times.

Sincerely,

The Strong Women in Medicine and Healthcare of Pakistan Authors of the letter:

  • Dr Sarah Nadeem, MBBS, MD, FACE. Endocrinologist. Aga Khan University. Cofounder Pakistan Women in Medicine facebook community.
  • Dr Hunaina Shahab, MBBS, MD Cardiologist. Aga Khan University, Cofounder Pakistan Women in Medicine Facebook community
  • Dr Bisma Imtiaz, MBBS, MBA. Aga Khan University, Cofounder Pakistan Women in Medicine Facebook community
  • Dr Lara Zuberi, MBBS, MD. Assistant Professor Hematology and Oncology, University of Florida, Jacksonville Florida
  • Dr Tasnim Ahsan, MRCP FRCP FCPS Prof. Emerita Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Dean, Medicell Institute of Diabetes Endocrinology & Metabolism.Physician & Endocrinologist.
  • Dr. Imbesat Maheeen Syed, MBBS. Sr.Resident Surgery. Vice President National Society Of Women In Science Pakistan
  • Dr Suwaiba Azim, MBBS. Neurologist
  • Dr Farha Baloch, MBBS, Cardiologist AKUH

Signatories/Endorsers of the letter:

  • Dr Faiqa Cheema MD, Asst Professor, University of Connecticut, School of Medicine, Infectious Disease, Director Transplant Infectious Disease, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
  • Dr Aysha Habib Khan, Professor, Chemical Pathology, Aga Khan University
  • Dr Uzma Hasan, MD Division Chief, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston NJ, USA
  • Dr Aamna Hassan, MD Consultant Nuclear Physician, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Center
  • Dr Asmara Malik, MBBS, MPhil Scholar Community Medicine, National University of Medical Sciences.
  • Dr Saima Ghaus, Consultant Physician & Endocrinologist, Medicell Institute of Diabetes Endocrinology & Metabolism
  • Dr Nazuk Eraj, MBBS, Dow University of Health Sciences
  • Dr Mehreen Kidwai, MBBS, Dow University of Health Sciences
  • Dr Lena Jafri, MBBS Assistant Professor, Section head & Director Residency, Chemical Pathology, Dept of Pathology, Aga Khan University
  • Ms Farah Syed, BS RD Clinical dietitian, The Aga Khan University Hospital
  • Dr Mahrukh Asad, MBBS, Lecturer- Bahria University Medical & Dental College. GP- Sehat kahani.
  • Ms. Moti Khan MSC Nutrition Registered Dietitian, The Aga Khan University Hospital.
  • Dr Imbesat Maheen Syed, MBBS Sr.Resident Surgery, Vice President National Society Of Women In Science Pakistan
  • Maheen Zaidi, 5th year MBBS student
  • Ms.Tooba Ali, BS Nutrition Registered Dietitian AKUH
  • Dr Karishma Lal, MBBS, Aga Khan University, Karachi.
  • Dr Sajida Raza, M.B.B.S AKU
  • Dr. Shahida Bashir, MD, Pulmonary, critical care & sleep medicine, Boynton Beach, FL, USA
  • Dr Habiba Thawer PhD PT
  • Dr Amna Rabbani, MBBS, The Aga Khan University
  • Dr. Sana Zeeshan, Assistant Professor, Breast Surgeon, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi and Hyderabad
  • Dr Afshan Akhtar M.B.B.S, The Aga Khan University
  • Dr Maleeha Naseem, ER physician and Epidemiologist (clinician-researcher)
  • Dr Tamseela Ahmed Murtaza, Endocrinologist, Medicell Institute of Diabetes Endocrinology & Metabolism (MIDEM)
  • Dr Shafia Memon, General Pediatrician, Farmington Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Connecticut, USA
  • Dr Saniya Khan, Pulmonary Medicine & Critical Care Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi**The views and opinions expressed in this letter do not represent the employers of above health care workers but are their personal opinions based on their professional expertise and experience **
June 11, 2020

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