Indian Medical Association (IMA) commemorates the National Doctors’ Day in India on July 1. Considering how the medical community has been working relentlessly to curb the pandemic and treat thousands of coronavirus patients for over a year, the occasion reminds us once again how the healthcare industry is facing one of its biggest challenges.
Many doctors were seen working under a crumbling medical infrastructure, with lack of essential medical equipment during the second wave of coronavirus in the country. Increasing the immense stress were several cases of physical assault against the doctors by families of patients. Let us take a look at some of the hurdles the medical community faced and continues to face amidst a deadly pandemic.
Crumbling Medical Infrastructure
During the second wave of coronavirus in the country, many doctors were seen breaking down as they reported that their hospital did not have enough oxygen to save the Covid patients with severe symptoms. Many hospitals in Delhi even had to go to the High Court to demand oxygen supply from the government as hospitals received an overwhelming number of Covid patients.
Earlier this month, the IMA wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his personal intervention in ensuring ‘optimum milieu’ for medical professionals so that they can work without any fear. PM Modi’s intervention was sought after a doctor at Assam’s Hojai was assaulted by the relatives of a Covid patient who had died, allegedly due to oxygen shortage.
In their mission to curb the pandemic, many doctors are also facing patients who are refusing to take Covid vaccine because of misinformation. The IMA in its letter to PM Modi had asked that people who were spreading misinformation about the coronavirus vaccination drive must be booked and punished in accordance with the law, including under the relevant provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Despite their commitment to save the patients under unfavourable conditions, medical workers in a few facilities are receiving meagre salaries. Earlier in May, the Himachal Pradesh Government had announced that it would be roping in interns, final year students from MBBS, nursing and contractual doctors in Covid hospitals.
However, the payment that was decided for the newly added medical staff was as low as Rs1,500 per month for nursing students, contractual laboratory staff and GNM third-year students.
After much criticism the payment of fourth and fifth year MBBS students, junior and senior resident doctors and contractual doctors was increased to receive Rs 10,000 per month. The BSc and MSc third-year nursing students will get Rs 6,000, contractual lab staff and GNM students will get Rs 5,000 per month.