Help healthcare workers, now | HT Editorial – Editorials
India cannot fight the coronavirus pandemic if its healthcare warriors (doctors, nurses, paramedics, and hospital support staff) are unsure. This is obvious, but must be reiterated due to the rapid infection rate of members of the medical fraternity. In Delhi alone, eight doctors tested positive. In Chandigarh, two nurses and a doctor tested positive. Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital has curtailed operations after two nurses tested positive. In the Nalanda of Bihar, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the doctors were exposed to a patient who tested positive and developed the symptoms themselves. However, they were told to keep working, which in turn has put all of them and newer patients at risk.
These are just illustrative examples of a larger pattern. The implications are clear. One, this will lead to the spread of infection, as the interaction of medical workers with each other and patients is very high these days. Two, India already has a severe shortage of health workers relative to the population. An increase in cases is inevitable. This will require all available human resources, but if doctors and nurses become infected on a large scale, the opposite will occur. They will have to be quarantined and treated, exhausting resources. Three, it hits the morale of the medical fraternity. There are already reports of doctors and nurses contemplating massive resignations, which the authorities are not in a position to accept. While this may seem irresponsible, it is important to recognize that they are individuals, with anxieties and fears, families and that they want to survive. India cannot afford to have its health workers unmotivated at a time when they need them at their best.
There is only one solution: obtain and supply personal protective equipment (PPE) immediately. The government is aware of the challenge. On Monday, he announced his plans to increase the manufacture and acquisition of protective equipment. But on the ground, every day that passes without the right equipment puts the lives of doctors, medical staff, their families and the patients they are treating at risk. This will undermine the lockout, spawn many more “super spreaders” and groups, and undermine the effort to flatten the curve with the lockout. Empathize with front-line workers, and act accordingly by giving them what they need, to save their lives and the lives of citizens.