- The total 1,302 doctors infected with COVID-19: IMA
- Of which, 99 doctors have succumbed to the disease in India so far
- This is the first time since the pandemic, IMA has released data on doctors
New Delhi: India’s top medical body – the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has issued a ‘red alert’ for medicos and medical administrators involved in coronavirus containment efforts and asked them to raise their guard while announcing that of the total 1,302 doctors infected with COVID-19, 99 doctors have succumbed to the disease in India so far. Of those dead, 73 were above the age of 50 years, 19 in the age-group of 35-50 and seven below 35 years. Among the 99 who have lost their lives, 57 of them were General Practitioners. This is the first time since the pandemic, IMA has released data on doctors who have lost their lives while battling the highly contagious virus. Issuing a statement, the top medical body said,
“IMA declares RED ALERT to doctors and medical administrators, if COVID-19 mortality needs to decrease in the country then it has to start with doctors and India’s healthcare system.”
Highlighting the trend of COVID-19 deaths among the doctors, IMA said,
Analysis of data shows that while senior and young doctors are equally infected with COVID-19, mortality is higher among elders. While this is on expected lines, there is scope for reducing deaths across the age spectrum. Meticulous adherence to norms and discipline inside hospitals will have a salutary effect.
Along with the data, the IMA has strongly recommended practices that India’s healthcare system should follow in a bid to decrease the mortality rate. In an official statement, the body said,
This requires intense review and updating of all administrative setups in the hospitals, including infection control protocols. Any gap in providing for the safety of doctors, nurses and staff have to be plugged. A feedback system from the doctors, employees and public needs to be put in place. Cleaning and sanitising protocols should be meticulously adhered to.
NDTV also spoke to doctors to understand the learnings from COVID-19 pandemic and how India can protect its frontline workers.
National President of IMA Dr Rajan Sharma said that while the medical profession remains the beacon of hope for the nation to lead the exit from the pandemic, COVID-19 death among doctors has become a matter of great concern. He added,
Doctors need to take charge of the situation and ensure the safety of themselves, their families, their colleagues and staff. We have also told doctors that recovery has to be the norm and death an exception. A safe and sound setup for the doctor would mean the safety of his patients too. And people have to understand that you should not hide your symptoms from your doctor.
Talking about some of the safety measures that hospitals need to implement on priority in order to safeguard healthcare workers life, Dr Rajan Sharma further said,
Friendly and scientific batch posting needs to be implemented. Working hours should be tempered by concerns of safety. Providing for PPEs, training, physical distancing and sanitisers should be monitored on a daily basis.
Secretary General of IMA Dr RV Asokan said,
Operation theaters, labour rooms, laboratories and casualties require special care. ICUs and Critical Care units deserve close scrutiny for adherence to best practices and protocols.
Highlighting the work of general practitioners and how they are more vulnerable to the disease, Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, Former President of the SAARC Medical Association and Indian Medical Association said,
If anybody has any doubts that they have developed COVID they first approach the general practitioner in the area and while the doctor will take the basic precautions of gloves and masks they won’t have the kind of advanced setup that a COVID dedicated hospital may have. This makes them vulnerable and they deal with such a high number of patients, many of whom may even be Corona carriers unknowingly. 99 is just the figures collated by IMA. The actual figures must be way higher because IMA only has 3.25 lakh members out of which only 10% doctors are in government hospitals, rest are all private doctors. India has a total of 11 lakh doctors so there is a large chunk whose data is not even being recorded.
Talking about how vulnerable are the doctors, nurses, healthcare workers are in the coronavirus era and what needs to be done to protect the healthcare workers from being exposed to the disease, Dr Manish, Senior Resident Doctor at Safdarjung Hospital adds,
The mortality rate for the same age in the general population is 1 per cent due to COVID-19, while for health care workers its 10 per cent. So, all doctors, nurses, and paramedic staff are ten times more likely to contract the disease and die from it. That’s how vulnerable we are. Control of the disease is in the hands of the entire population. An irresponsible act from anyone markedly affects the health of our entire system especially the frontline corona warriors. India is a developing country. We have always been a resource constraint country. With healthcare receiving a minuscule percentage of gross domestic product, we don’t expect to be on top of any disease as far as preparedness is concerned. Currently, what we have learned from the outbreak in Italy is that we need to protect the ones to can protect the whole world, if India starts to lose its healthcare professionals then I am afraid, we won’t be able to win this battle.
Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO) and Medtalks, Heart Care Foundation of India said,
You just cannot protect the healthcare workers, we all are very vulnerable. This is a professional hazard. There is no 100 per cent guarantee, but, obviously, all precautions should be taken by the hospital and its administration, we should avoid hospitals turning into the hotbed for the disease, which currently we are seeing in the state of Odisha as two of the major cancer hospitals there have been shut down because both hospitals have reported more than hundreds of COVID-19 cases.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.