Where have all the doctors gone?

We need to invoke the provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2005 through which the services of anyone in the government or from among civilians can be drafted into service in view of the emergency situation.

 

With the ever-increasing number of Coronavirus positive cases in the state, the main concern now has become the lack of adequate health infrastructure and health professionals to meet the situation. The state government has opened Covid Care Centres in UNNACO Meitram, Trade Expo Centre Lamboikhong-nangkhong and in the districts. Now, demands for a fully equipped Covid Hospital has been made from certain quarters and on the other hand the state is in extreme financial distress and is seen curtailing expenditure on several sectors. So, instead of constructing a new hospital, the state seems to be considering conversion of certain facilities into a temporary Covid hospital. A dedicated Covid hospital had become all the more necessary in view of emergent need for facilitating healthcare facilities of non-Covid patients in the two main health institutions of the state. And the state is now committed to open such a Covid hospital even if it is cash-strapped due to the emerging situation. Nobody had expected the Covid situation to spiral out of control and reach such levels. The cumulative figure of more than 16 thousand Covid positive cases and more than 4000 active cases in a state with a population of 30 lakhs is indeed alarming.

What is more alarming is the lukewarm response from medical graduates and other health workers to the state’s call for volunteering for Covid duty in the Covid Care Centres. The state health directorate had advertised for recruiting 100 doctors on contract basis to man the Covid Care Centres. As the Chief Minister N Biren Singh said, only about 75 medical graduates turned up for the walk-in-interview. Perhaps, the reason for such a response might have been the general fear of getting infected with Covid 19 in the line of duty at the Care Centres. With the news of score of doctors and nurses getting infected with the virus in major hospitals, everyone seems to be reluctant to join Covid duty. The general reluctance might have been the pressure of the parents of the medical graduates, as everyone is afraid of the general damage it does to the organs of the body even if one recovers from the virus.

Every year, thousands of Science undergraduates from the state compete in the medical entrance examinations and hundreds join the medical graduate courses. As a result, we get hundreds of medical graduates every year. For those who did not make the grade for selection in the medical colleges of the country, hundreds go outside the country to study medicine who has to appear in the initiation examinations conducted in the country before beginning practice. It is all the same with nurses, as thousands go for nursing courses both in the state institutes and also outside the state.

Now, many are going for the AYUSH courses now. What we mean to say is that, there is no dearth of medical graduates and other health professionals in the state. So, we need to invoke the provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2005 through which the services of anyone in the government or from among civilians can be drafted into service in view of the emergency situation.

Today, we are facing a war-like situation and we need warriors. Every health professional had gone through the Hippocratic Oath and now the time has come to fulfil that oath. As for the state government, it needs to treat the present situation as an emergency.

It is provided in the Act that no court (except the Supreme Court or a High Court) shall have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding in respect of anything done, action taken, orders made, direction, instruction or guidelines issued by the Central Government, National Authority, State Government, State Authority or District Authority in pursuance of any power conferred by, or in relation to its functions, by this Act.

-Editorial

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First Published:Oct. 24, 2020, 8:56 a.m.

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