PESHAWAR: Coronavirus killed 12 more people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday amid boycott of contact tracing and sample collection by health department rapid response teams following the denial of a monthly stipend during more than a year.
The RRTs are responsible for collecting samples from suspected Covid-19 cases to investigate and trace patient contacts in the province.
Doctors expressed concern over the development and feared that the boycott of duty by RRT members would negatively impact the province’s efforts to stem the spread of the virus.
They demanded the immediate payment of dues to the teams for the continuation of the effective response to the coronavirus.
The province recorded 12 Covid-19-related deaths and 421 cases on Saturday.
Health department official promises payments starting tomorrow
Of the deaths, seven were reported in Peshawar, three in Mardan and one in Swabi and Abbottabad.
The death toll from the virus in the province reached 6,194, while cases and active cases totaled 214,698 and 10,806 respectively, according to a health department report published here.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Doctors Association said in a statement that the Ministry of Finance has released Rs 900 million for Covid-related activities in the province, including payment of stipend to doctors, paramedics and epidemiologists engaged for this purpose.
He said, however, that the promised stipend had not been paid to these health workers for the past 13 months.
The PDA said boycotting Covid-related tasks by the RRTs would have a negative impact on the contact tracing of confirmed Covid-19 cases and their investigation and therefore their dues should be cleared without delay to ensure a effective fight against coronavirus.
He said the teams have been deployed across the province by the department to report suspected cases of Covid-19 to the respective district health officers and take swabs from them before sending them to the laboratory for investigation using international protocols. .
The association said 112 health workers, including 71 doctors, had so far died of the coronavirus in hospitals, but the government had granted the Shuhada compensation program to the heirs of only 10 of them.
He said the RRTs totaled 280 and had three members each and that not all of those workers had received their allowances in the past 13 months.
Health department officials said that the RRTs played an important role in the fight against Covid-19 in the province because, through these field workers, the authorities knew the trend of the geographical spread of the virus and ordered corrective measures in collaboration with the health district. desks.
They said the teams were also responsible for reporting suspected Covid-19 cases with travel history to other districts through the Provincial Detection and Response Team for prompt investigation in the areas. concerned and to maintain close liaison with the respective isolation and quarantine centers so that new cases are included in the “line list”.
Officials said teams also assessed the status of suspected cases, decided between isolating them at home and moving them to high-dependency or isolation units, and shared information regarding their condition and testing with relevant authorities. .
They said the government had announced a monthly allowance of Rs 4,500 for the team leader (doctor), Rs 3,500 for the member (epidemiologist) and Rs 2,500 for the member (technician) along with an additional payment 500 rupees for data entry via mobile application.
In addition, the Association of Young Doctors has expressed concern over the denial of allocation to RRTs.
In a statement, he said the provincial government was spending huge sums on the prevention and management of Covid-19 and the life-saving teams for detection, contact tracing and sample collection. .
The YDA said halting stipend payments to health workers would hurt the campaign against the virus, which had spread rapidly in the province over the past month.
He asked the government to ensure that health workers receive their outstanding amount at the earliest so that they can resume the crucial work of finding out the quantum of the disease by timely investigating suspects and isolating positives. of the general population.
When contacted, the Director General (Health Services), Dr Niaz Mohammad, said the health department had approved funds for payments to RRT members and would release them on Monday for disbursement.
“Our accounts section has verified all dues claims and the finance section will release Rs 110 million on Monday after verification,” he said.
Posted in Dawn, February 20, 2022