Saturday, March 28, 2020


Its a war ....But how equipped our soldiers are?  While fighting this war against COVID 19, the most important thing is to see that our soldiers i.e. doctors and other supporting staff have enough wepons (medicine and equipment) and protective gears.

I came across a video where chinese healthcare staff was shown wearing protective clothing for doctors. The clothing had multiple layers. Do we have such multiple layered clothing available in sufficient quantity? As the pandemic accelerates, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers is a key concern. Countries like USA , UK are struggling to privide adequate number of PPEs to their medical staff. Hashtag #GetMePPE on Twitter will show stories detailing the crisis medical workers are facing in different countries.

The healthcare professionals, are at the highest risk of getting infected. Many professionals around the world have lost their lives while treating patients. Worldwide healthcare professionals are overwhelmed and anxious due to the current situation.

Figures from China's National Health Commission show that more than 3300 health-care workers have been infected as of early March and, according to local media, by the end of February at least 22 had died. In Italy, 20% of responding health-care workers were infected, and some have died.
Medical staff goes through physical and mental exhaustion due to pressure of treating patients in large numbers and the pain of losing patients and colleagues.
My spouse is a  critical care specialist. Our life is not the same as that of many other corporate 'work from home' workers. We now have isolation room at home and days are filled with anxiety all around. Like soldiers, doctors are also taught to perform their duties at any cost but this time situation is different. If infected, not only the doctor or medical worker is at risk but his or her family is also at the risk. That means every medical worker is actually fighting at two levels. He  or she has to cure patients as well protect family from possible infection.

Indian Government has been trying to equip our healthcare workers through various means

  1. Government has announced Rs 50 lakh medical insurance cover per person for healthcare workers, sanitation workers, paramadeics, doctors and nurses who are exposing themselves to the virus.
  2. Government has placed order for 10,000 ventilators from PSU and also considered buying 30,000 ventilators in one or two months from Bharat Electronics Ltd. Surprisingly media reports estimate only 30K to 40K ventilators being available in India!
  3.  The government has roped in three local manufacturers who can produce around 20,000 pieces of this personal protective equipment per week expecting a shortage of disposable body coveralls, 3-ply surgical and N-95 masks for doctors and health workers
  4. The National Health Authority (NHA) has contacted private hospitals to prepare them for Stage 3. Covid-19 will be covered under viral infection package of NHA and will cover the cost of protective gear and additional medical equipment to be acquired by private hospitals. I feel, Indian Government should also come with comprehensive hospital preparedness checklist for covid 19 for all the hospitals.
Apart from all these measures, here are few simple but important things which  government and hospital management must ensure to give some relief to already anxious and stressed medical workers

  1. Provide pick up and drop facility and proper food to all the on duty medical workers during lockdown when no public transport is available.
  2. In metro cities, medical workers may be residing in a small houses, may be in one room or one bhk where it may not be possible for them to isolate themselves from rest of the family members.  Hospitals and  Goverment should make accommodation available if any ground level medical staff needs a room to stay in isolation.
  3. Engage multiple agencies, companies to manufacture enough PPEs
  4. rain all the medical workers through personal training, online training.
  5. Leaders should lead from the front. Ensure that higher level doctors actually work on ground level. This one thing will boost confidence of nurses and other medical staff involved.
  6. If any medical worker shows symptoms of infection then expedite testing and treatment and provide full support to him as well as his family.
  7. The most important way by means of which every individual can help medical workers is to stay indoors. After a certain stage even these medical workers will also be helpless. So staying indoors is the best precaution.

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