Thirteen medical professionals are tested CoVID19 positive, according to the ministry of health and family welfare. All around the country the number of medical professionals who are CoVID positive is fifty, as per an India Today report. The number of CoVID19 cases all across India and Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir face an increase. Still, the apathy towards making avail Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) for the medical professionals continues except in very few states like Kerala. Delhi has a total of 445 confirmed cases. India currently has a total number of 3072 confirmed cases in India, as of April 4th. It is 94 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Among the 13 positive cases of health care workers one belongs to AIIMS, two cases belong to Safdarjung governme hospital, one at Maharaja Agrasen hospital in Haryana, one at Sardar Patel hospital Delhi, two nursing officers at Delhi’s cancer institute, one at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya hospital, one nurse at Apollo hospital, two doctors at Mohalla clinic, Delhi.
108 medical practitioners including staffers, doctors, nurses and ward boys at Sir Ganga Ram hospital are in quarantine since two patients admitted in the hospital two weeks ago are CoVID positive. The patients were admitted due to other critical illness but later they developed respiratory symptoms and were checked for CoVID19 as per ICMR guidelines, the hospital authorities said in a statement issued on April 4th. Among them 23 staffs have been quarantined in hospital in attached facilities, while the rest 85 staffs are in home quarantine.
The PM CARES?
Even when the reported number of CoVID19 increase, the central government is yet to have a solid plan and project for providing the needed Private Protective Equipments which include N95 masks for the doctors. The daily encounter with patients who show the symptoms or those who doesn’t show the symptoms of CoVID19 are exposed to the threat of getting affected by the virus. The ‘front line warriors’ of India’s medical infrastructure had been demanding these primary needs to be fulfilled since the outbreak of the virus.
PM CARES (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situatons) is a fund raising campaign initiated on March 28 to deal with CoVID19. The PM chaired trust include defense, home and finance ministers.
AIIMS Delhi appealed its staff to contribute one day salary to the PM CARES. AIIMS Delhi in a circular ‘appeals’ the resident doctors to contribute one-day salary to PM CARES fund “to aid the government effort to fight the CoVID 19”. The ‘appeal’ informed that those residents who object this can intimate their account officers before 6th of April, if not one day salary of them will be deducted and added to the PM CARES.
Residents Doctors Association of AIIMS who is being in regular dialogues with the administration regarding the non availability of PPE, responded to the appeal by demanding an opt-in choice in the case of contribution. In a statement issued today, they expressed their concern over the arbitrariness of PM CARES appeal. In a letter to the registrar they informed that “the appeal for forced donation without consulting RDA violates the rights of an individual to support the country in the way he/she prefers.” AIIMS RDA pointed out that considering the shortage of PPE and other facilities for travel and sanitization inside the campus itself, “AIIMS RDA after feedback from residents request you to make this exercise voluntarily (opt-in only) and use the funds locally for the provision of PPEs and other facilities to equip the health care workers better handle the pandemic and support the country in crisis.”
A single case can impact health care worker availability
The case of Sir Ganga Ram hospital where 108 health care professionals had to go in quarantine indicates how lack of PPE going to affect the entire (shambled) logistics in preventing the pandemic. A resident doctor from AIIMS who spoke to Keyboard Journal told that the virus spread will get intensified if there is a situation where more doctors are forced to be in quarantine and the required PPEs are not made available. The doctor said the most important concern is if one of the residents catches the disease the entire team will have to get quarantined. AIIMS administration had redirected fifty lakhs which was meant for PPE to PM CARES, the doctor said the resident doctors felt this as an act of betrayal.
“It is extremely disheartening to know that such events continue unabated even when this country is going through this massive pandemic. Such actions would destroy the morale of frontline healthcare workers deployed in such testing situations.” The Resident Doctors Association had said in a letter.
The media spokesperson of Safdurjung hospital did not respond to even repeated calls.
Featured image: A doctor wearing torn rain coat at a CoVID 19 treatment facility in Kolkata, via Reuters.