The Women Democratic Front raised concerns over the healthcare worker infection rates rising and the lack of provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the healthcare workers especially those working on the front-lines of the Corona pandemic. Dozens of healthcare workers have been infected over the past few months despite this just being the onset of the pandemic in the country.“The healthcare workers especially the large number of female nursing staff must be provided with PPE against occupational hazard since they return to their families and cannot isolate themselves due to the work burden at home. This is sheer neglect and incompetence on part of the federal government”, President WDF Ismat Shahjahan said in a meeting held to discuss the increasing precarity and vulnerability of the working class during the on-going viral pandemic. The hospitals must demand from the government to protect all the workers working in corona facilities including the janitorial staff who are invisibilized in the larger discussion of provision of the PPE. In the fight against the pandemic, those who are fighting at the front-lines are the most vulnerable to getting infected from the virus, protecting the lives of the front-liners must be our utmost priority further, state must ensure the provision of the equipment and increase the domestic manufacturing of the equipment while ensuring workers safety. The federal government has borrowed from IFIs, making advanced procurement under these loans and yet we see the provincial governments crying for PPEs and lifesaving equipment, further added Ismat Shahjahan.
The pandemic lock down in the country has rendered thousands of daily wagers and workers unemployed, the working class must be provided with basic income which meets their basic needs, said WDF Secretary General Alya Bakhshal. Organising the workers during the time of the crisis is necessary for their survival, pro-people organisations must unite to take this forward with a pro workers agenda including the protection of lives and livelihoods of all workers, said Alya Bakhshal.
We must prepare ourselves by expanding our existing healthcare system with a focus on acquiring ventilators, test kits and PPE. We should learn from the best examples in the world who used massive testing, bottom up information sharing and prioritising healthcare workers’ lives in the fight against the pandemic.The only way to fight the pandemic is to recognise right to health as right to life, the global pandemic must be a lesson for the world to bring systemic changes to the perspectives on health and life, said Dr. Tooba Syed, secretary information WDF.WDF also expressed great concern at the Supreme Court intervention in the health emergency response by demanding the removal of the country’s top health official, Dr. Zafar Mirza, in the middle of the crisis.
WDF demands that the government must ensure provision of PPE to all healthcare workers and sanitation staff at the hospitals on an emergency basis. WDF calls upon healthcare workers to organise for the formation of action committees and vows to stand in solidarity with them.
WDF is a socialist-feminist political organisation, aiming to bring together struggles of women against all forms of patriarchy, capitalism, feudalism, national oppression, state oppression, war and terrorism, and religious extremism. We stand for women’s emancipation and social justice, people’s democracy, peace, secularism, and non-aligned foreign policy. We are not an NGO. We are a resistance movement running with membership fee, and we do not accept any financial support from any government/non-government agency within or outside Pakistan.
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