NEW DELHI (AP) – Since the beginning of the week, Dr. Siddhart Taran, Ph.D. He passed the COVID-19 test, but the results were delayed because of the penetration of the country’s healthcare system.
His hospital, overcrowded, wants him to continue working until the testing lab confirms he has COVID-19.
India reported 323,144 new infections on Tuesday, with a total of more than 17.6 million cases, behind the United States alone. The Indian Ministry of Health has reported that 2771 deaths have occurred in the last 24 hours, with 115 Indians contracted the disease every hour. Experts say these figures are likely to be less than calculated.
“I can not breathe. In fact, I’m more symptomatic than my patients. So how can they make me work? ” Taran asked.
The challenges facing India today, as cases are growing faster than anywhere else in the world, are compounded by the fragility of its health care system, doctors.
There are 541 medical colleges in India with 36,000 postgraduate medical students, according to the majority of doctors’ unions in any public hospital. They are the bulwark of India’s COVID-19 response. But for more than a year now, they have been subjected to the burden of mammoths, lack of pay, unbridled exposure to the virus, and complete academic neglect.
“We are cannon fodder, that’s all,” said Tara.
In the five states most affected by the wave, graduate doctors protested against the reckless attitude of administrators towards students like them, who urged the authorities to prepare for the second wave, but were not ignored.
Ign Ignesh Gengadia, a 26-year-old graduate student, knew he would work 24 hours a day, seven days a week when he enrolled in a state medical college in Surat, Gujarat. What he did not expect would be the only doctor who normally cared for 60 patients and had 20 patients on duty in the intensive care unit.
“ICU patients require constant attention. If more than one patient starts to collapse, who do I attend? ” Gengadia asked.
The Hindu Rao Hospital, where Tara works, gives an overview of the dire situation in the country. It has increased beds for viral patients, but has not hired additional doctors, quadrupling the workload, Tara said. To make matters worse, senior doctors are refusing to treat viral patients.
“I understand that senior doctors are older, more susceptible to the virus. “But as we have seen in this wave, the virus affects both the elderly and the young,” said Tara, who suffers from asthma but regularly takes on the role of COVID-19.
Due to the strong wave, the hospital has changed from 200 beds for viral patients. Two doctors used to take care of 15 beds, now they have 60.
Staff numbers are also declining as students test positive with alarming speed. Almost 75% of postgraduate students in the Department of Surgery have tested positive for the virus in the past month. This was said by one of the students of the department, who spoke anonymously for fear of being punished.
Tara, who is part of the Hindu Rao Postgraduate Doctors Association, said students receive their monthly salaries two months late. Last year, students were given the expected four-month salary only after going on a hunger strike.
Dr. Rakesh Dogra, a senior Hindu Rao specialist, said the burden of caring for the coronavirus inevitably falls on graduate students. But he stressed that they have different roles. Postgraduate students treat patients և senior doctors.
Although Hindu Rao did not hire additional doctors during the second wave, Dogran said doctors from nearby city hospitals were temporarily sent there to help increase the congestion.
India, which spends 1.3% of its GDP on health, less than all major economies, was initially seen as a success story in overcoming the epidemic. However, few agreements were reached in the following months.
A year later, Dr. Subarna Sarkar says he was betrayed by how his hospital in Pune was completely overlooked.
“Why not hire more people?” Why weren’t the infrastructures upgraded? “It’s as if we didn’t learn anything from the first channel,” he said.
With a delay, the administration of Sassoon Hospital announced last Wednesday that it could hire 66 doctors to boost capacity, and this month the COVID-19 beds were increased from 525 to 700.
But so far only 11 new doctors have been hired, says the hospital’s dean, Dr. Murlidar Tambe.
“We just don’t get more doctors,” Tambe said, adding that they are also struggling to find new technicians and nurses.
In response to last year’s wave, the hospital hired 200 nurses on a contract basis, but fired them in October after taking them back. Tambe said the contract allowed the hospital to terminate its services properly.
“Our main responsibility is to the patients, not the staff,” he said.
The number of cases in the city of Pune has almost doubled in the last month, from 5,741 to 10,193. The authorities promise more beds to overcome the tide.
Sarkar, a medical student at Sarkun Hospital, says that is not enough.
“Extra beds without a workforce are just beds. It is a smokescreen, ”he said.
To quell the flood, Sassoon students said authorities had eased rules to keep their patients safe. For example, students work with COVID-19 patients for a week and then move directly to patients in the general ward.
This increases the risk of spreading infections, says Dr. T. of the National Health Systems Resource Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Sundaraman.
The students want the Sassoon administration to establish a mandatory quarantine period for COVID-19 “general hospital on-duty”.
In the last month, 80 of the hospital’s 450 graduate students have tested positive, but they are receiving a maximum of seven days of rehabilitation leave.
“COVID erodes your immunity, so there are people who test positive two or three times, because their immunity is very shot, they are not allowed to recover,” said Sarkar.
And after a year of developing COVID-19 tests, he says he knows everything about the virus, but very little. Diverting graduate students nationally has been spent on caring for viral patients.
Students at the State Medical College in Surat said they had not had any academic lectures. Since March last year, the hospital has been accepting viral patients, and postgraduate medical students spend almost all of their time caring for them. The city now reports more than 2,000 cases a day և 22 deaths.
Paying so much attention to the epidemic has caused many medical students to worry about their future.
Surgeon students do not know how to remove the appendix, lung specialists have not learned the first thing about lung cancer, biochemists spend all their time on PCR tests.
“What kind of doctors are you going to produce this year?” said Dr. Shradda Subramanyan, Permanent Physician of the Surgery Department of Sasun Hospital.
The Associated Press Health Science Department is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.