Doctors resign as Covid-19 outbreak rises

In the western Herat city, as many as 13 doctors, who were working in front line of fight against Covid-19 at newly established health facilities known as CovidI and CovidII, have resigned in protest against what they call delay in monthly payment, growing work pressure and lack of health equipment. Huda, a private firm, which acts as conduit between the Covid I health facility and the public health department sets tough restrictions for doctors, they claim.    

Every working day, the doctors, as claimed, were duty-bound to work for 12 constant hours in “warm” uninforms which would increase their body temperatures in hot conditions.    

Homayoun Yusofi, a doctor who has resigned, told Kabul Now they were working under growing work pressure while being directly exposed to be infected by the virus. He called on the government authorities to hire new health workers and ease the burden of work.     

Masoud Mirzaee, a doctor, says that the authorities have warned to fire doctors if they refuse to work for longer hours.  “It is unfair. We deal with hundreds of patients on daily basis but the authorities do not listen to us,” says Masoud.

Doctors complain that work pressure is beyond their capacity and they are facing a number of challenges.

As the pandemic Covid-19 began to spread in the western Herat province, the Afghan ministry of public health opened temporary health facilities to cope with rapid outbreak of the virus. But health workers and those who have been infected by the virus complain about lack of medical equipment, mismanagement and absence of staffs in the newly-opened health facilities in Herat.       

A health worker checks patient’s temperature in Herat

Mohammad Ibrahim Basim, in-charge of infection control department at Herat Regional Hospital, told Kabul Now that Herat heath sector would face a major challenge if doctors and health workers refuse to work.  Mr. Basim, who has been infected by coronavirus, lives in self-imposed isolation at his house.  

Daoud Hashimi, deputy governor for Herat, met with a number of doctors who have resigned. Mr. Hashimi promised that the government would address the issue. He stressed them to continue working.

Doctors complain that health facilities are short of medical supplies such as ventilators, oxygen balloons, face masks and gloves. As there were not medical equipment many Covid-19 patients die in the hospitals, according to heath workers.         

Ghulam Habib Hashimi, a member of the Herat Provincial Council, is critical about a poor management system at CovidI health center. “Corona patients need to be given more attention and their lives should be saved,” says Mr. Hashemi. He urged local health authorities to list medical equipment they require and provide it to him.

But Zumrai Hassin, in-charge of Covid-19 hospital in Herat, says that the hospital is not under equipped but its capacity is fully occupied.  

The western Herat province, with 3,227 registered cases of Covid-19, is the second hard hit city, followed by the capital Kabul which reports 8,133 confirmed cases.

Mr. Hassin says that 14 percent of Covid-19 patients in Herat are health workers.  

The doctors, who have resigned, say they have not received their salaries ever since they were hired—in the last three months.

Hassin says that salaries of more than 100 health workers, who deliver services at Covid-19 health facilities, would be paid by June 04.  

The Afghan ministry of public health on Thursday, June 04, confirmed that the total number of Covid-19 cases has reached 1, 8054 in the country. 300 people, who were infected by the virus, have passed away, and 1,585 others have recovered, according to official figure.  

But the actual number of Covid-19 caused deaths are higher than official record and most cases of Covid-19 deaths remain under-reported in the country.