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Majority of Pakistan’s Doctors Still Advising Stricter Lockdowns

by Newsweek Pakistan

Courtesy PID

Survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan finds only 40 percent of respondents feel they are respected by the public

Despite the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government hailing its “smart lockdown” policy for curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country, 2 in 3 of the nation’s doctors who are on the front-lines of the pandemic have advocated either hardening or re-imposing lockdown restrictions.

Released jointly with the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association on Friday, the findings of Gallup Pakistan’s survey have revealed that practicing doctors feel the public should continue to exercise caution and patience beyond its current levels. Only 8 percent of respondents said lockdowns should be ended immediately.

Around 60 percent of respondents said they felt Pakistan’s response to COVID-19 was either “bad” or “very bad.” Of these, the highest percentage was from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, where 65 percent of doctors said they were not satisfied with the government’s response. In Sindh, 63 percent doctors said they were not happy with the government’s response, while in Punjab, 49 percent of the respondents said they were not happy with the way the crisis had been managed.

To a question on when they expected the world to be able to control the pandemic, 55 percent of respondents said it would take “more than a year.” Meanwhile, 41 percent believed it would take a “few months” and 4 percent claimed it would be brought under control “in a few weeks.”

A majority of doctors, 58 percent, said they felt they had reasonable levels of protective gear available, but around 47 percent felt nurses lacked protective gear; 51 percent that other technical staff did not have PPEs; and 58 percent felt janitorial staff was not being provided adequate protective gear.

To a question, 76 percent said it was the government’s responsibility to provide protective gear for healthcare workers, while 25 percent believe it is the hospital’s primary responsibility.

Referring to media coverage of healthcare workers, 66 percent claimed they were unjustly/over-criticized, while 30 percent felt they were “justly praised,” and 3 percent thought doctors were “over-praised” by media. Relatedly, 30 percent of respondents said they felt the public did not respect them at all, while 54 percent felt they were “somewhat” respected. To a question on who they blamed for this lack of respect, 59 percent said both the public and doctors were at fault, while 33 percent felt the public was solely to blame.

According to Gallup Pakistan, the Voice of COVID-19 Frontline Workers in Pakistan Survey spanned a representative sample of more than 400 randomly chosen doctors of various ages, specialties and seniority levels. It consisted of 65 percent male and 35 percent female respondents, with 67 percent of the respondents based in Sindh province; 26 percent in Punjab; and 7 percent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

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