PESHAWAR: The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa apologized on Sunday for delaying compensation to families of health workers who lost their lives while saving others from COVID-19.
With 79,245 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,208 related deaths, the northwestern province of Pakistan has one of the highest coronavirus mortality rates in the country.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government approved a compensation fund in April last year, but families of 78 health workers, including 48 doctors, who died of COVID-19 while on duty have not been compensated yet, according to Provincial Doctors Association (PDA) data.
"We apologize for any delay. All (families of) frontline health workers who died of COVID-19 on the line of duty will be compensated with their pension issues resolved," Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra told Arab News.
PDA president Dr. Ameer Taj told Arab News said he had sent two letters to the provincial health secretary and director general of health "months ago" to expedite the disbursement of compensation fund, but there has been no progress.
"We're left with no option but to go to court of law to get our legitimate right," he said, adding that the health department was "inefficient and dysfunctional" at a time when the country is struggling with the pandemic.
"The deceased health workers have many issues such as schooling of their children. Delay in the financial package is really a source of concern for us all."
According to PDA information secretary Dr. Salim Yousafzai, only one family, of Dr. Muhammad Javed who died of COVID-19 in Peshawar in April last year, had been redressed for the loss.
Dr. Nasir Inayat, a medical practitioner at Khyber Teaching Hospital’s nephrology department, said his uncle Dr. Hidayat Ullah Khan died of the virus in July last year but no help for his family had arrived from the government.
"We're hearing of a financial package, but we haven’t received any aid. My late uncle has two sons who study in university and I’ve to bear their expenses," he said.
According to Minister Jhagra, all the paperwork needed to compensate the deceased doctors' families would be ready next week.
Provincial Health Secretary Imtiaz Hussain Shah told Arab News that those "qualified" for compensation would be paid Rs7 million ($45,000). He did not specify, however, who would qualify and how many families would receive the funds.