Amidst the COVID outbreak, health authorities are considering several options in order to increase the workforce of healthcare workers and provide Protective Cover to all those Doctors who are aged, have a high risk of being infected from Covid and could even die. In this way, soon, Nursing and Medical students may be joining the fight against ongoing Pandemic.
The renowned experts of the medical sector had suggested the Government to adopt a strict approach combined with strategic protection in order to protect the older specialists. In its recent guideline, the health ministry has also stated that even the Dentists could be approached in order to tackle Covid – 19 pandemic.
Dr Devi Shetty, who is the founder and Chairman of Narayana Health Group has stated that currently, there exist around 40,0000 anaesthetists across the country and are in practise. They are well-trained to handle the ventilators. Out of such Doctors, around half of them are more than 50 years of age. They would be handling several Covid risks in ICU. Maximum are practising in cities. As the surge in cases will be planned, AIIMS or other such similar hospitals that are also training centres based in cities are the first ones that come into mind.
He further stated that the District hospitals would be handling the maximum number of patients. They may have hardly 15 to 20 specialists or only 2 anaesthetists. Once the government decides to convert these 200 to 250-bed hospitals into critical care facilities, how such cases are going to be handled. According to the latest national health profile, currently, there is a shortage of 85% doctors with respect to the existing work.
In 2017, over one million existing doctors had registered for this industry – according to government data. Out of this, only 80% are active in practise. It means that our country has only one Doctor for over 1500 people. However, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) norm, there should be 1 Doctor per 1000 people.
India sees around 70,000 MBBS students and 38,000 PG students graduating every year. Dr Srinath Reddy who is a member of Covid – 19 National Task Force and Public Health Foundation of India’s President has stated that currently they are focusing on to procure the ventilators. However, not all Doctors in our country are trained to handle them. Hence, training a large number of Health Professionals regarding how to handle ventilators would be the first step. If required, even the students who are pursuing Bachelor of Science (BSc) in nursing and PG in different specializations would also be trained.
He further stated that those students who are currently pursuing final semester of MBBS and are pursuing internships may be called to handle those patients who are less critical due to Covid -19. The officials are also exploring the idea of including those Medical graduates who passed out from foreign medical colleges. Further, according to the situation the officials may also consider the option of identifying appropriate people and train them to handle such patients. Even AYUSH practitioners could be included in order to handle patients.
Few experts have also stated that human resources from different departments of Medical Hospitals should be mobilized. Various Medical Training Procedures that have been recognised by Medical Council of India (MCI) should also be introduced.
Dr MC Misra who is former Director of AIIMS has stated that several doctors, technicians and nurses have been ordered to be freed from different elective procedures. If the number of COVID – 19 cases starts increasing, doctors from other departments can be roped in for critical care after providing appropriate training. Those private medical colleges which have not been fully utilized until now but have good ICU facilities as specified by MCI could also be included.
Another senior Doctor from Delhi Dr SK Sarin said that the government can divert doctors from various departments to those centres that are treating Covid – 19 patients. Currently, the manpower and required infrastructure is being prepared if there arises a situation where there could be more than 1000 Corona patients everyday.
He further said that currently over 50,000 PG students are getting trained in different specializations. It also includes those who failed their Certificate exams in previous attempts. They already have experience regarding hospital work. Without waiting for their exams, they could be allowed to handle Covid patients. In Maharashtra, the College of Physicians and Surgeons had got derecognised. It had trained over 40,000 specialists. In order to get recognition, they can be asked to work in District Hospitals. Further, there are 2000 specialists who were trained in Cardiology by the IGNOU and the Society for Emergency Medicine had trained another 2000 specialists. MCI could ask all of them to work in District Hospitals in order to get recognisation.