National Doctor's Day is celebrated across India on July 1 to mark the birth anniversary, which is incidentally also the death anniversary, of West Bengal's former Chief Minister Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy. This year the occasion becomes more significant, considering how the medical fraternity has been working day and night tirelessly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the absence of proper medical facilities and infrastructure during the second wave of the deadly virus, doctors were indeed on the frontline battling all odds, risking their own lives, working in never-ending shifts, dealing with the crumbling health sector, facing physical assaults, dealing with emotional pressures, fear of contracting the virus to their families, to say the least. However, despite the challenges, the medicos never stopped rendering their services to humanity when the country needed them the most. Be it professional or personal, it has been quite a problematic experience for the last one and a half years.
Lack Of Infrastructure
During the second wave of COVID-19, the healthcare infrastructure in India has notably faced many challenges. Shortage of oxygen cylinders, non-availability of ICU's and beds, absence of medicines and crucial drugs like Remdesivir lead many doctors to break down while treating patients with severe symptoms.
In April this year, when the second wave was at its peak, a video of a doctor from Mumbai had surfaced on social media. Dr Trupti Gilada, an infectious diseases specialist, had said the healthcare sector is helpless as the country has never faced such a situation.
With the ever-increasing daily new cases, many hospitals in Delhi even went to the High Court to demand oxygen supply from the government, News18 reported.
Amid the COVID crisis, numerous cases of doctors being blamed for failing to save the lives of severe patients have emerged, which has lead to violence in the form of assaults and threats against them. Last month, a doctor on COVID-19 duty in Assam was thrashed by the patient's relatives who succumbed to Covid 19.
Later, the IMA wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention in ensuring 'optimum milieu' for medical professionals to work without any fear, News18 reported.
Exhaustion and depression have been rising among doctors as watching patients die in front of them were pretty traumatising. Sharing his experience, Jammu and Kashmir's top pulmonologist Dr Javaid Malik said that the pandemic was quite distressing to the courage of the doctors but added that the paramedics have faced the situation with total commitment.
"It's been quite a challenging task. But this is how it is, life is full of challenges," Malik said.
Malik, also a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Covid task force said, "Everybody in our team almost got infected, from my seniors to juniors, the virus spared none. Also, the constant fear of taking the virus home took a toll on our mental psyche, but we kept going."
Dr Issa Fathima Jasmine, an orthodontist from Chennai, believes the same. "For me, it was emotionally very draining. Patients dying in the isolation wards without having a loved one beside them was quite emotional."
"I never had the courage to go home after coming back from work. I used to isolate myself for days and would only come home if my RT-PCR reports came negative. I couldn't have afforded my family to be infected," she said.
Because of the myths and fake information about the Covid vaccine, many doctors had to deal with patients who refuse to take their Covid shots.
"Vaccine hesitancy has come from a number of villages. People fear that vaccines would lead to sickness. So we decided to hold awareness camps that helped create confidence among the masses, door to door campaigns were conducted. Everybody put extra efforts during these testing times, " Parvaiz Ahmad Teeli, medical officer at the Indian System of Medicine (ISM), Ayush said.
According to the Indian Medical Association, nearly 800 doctors lost their lives during the second wave of Covid-19, of which 128 are from Delhi, 115 from Bihar and 79 from Uttar Pradesh. In contrast, others are at a greater risk of Coronavirus infections, Republic World reported.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensured that doctors should be respected, protected and safeguarded. He also emphasised the need for vaccination. We're celebrating this year's National Doctor's Day in memory of the veteran Dr BC Roy. We're so much pleased that PM Modi greeted the medical fraternity for Doctor's Day," IMA President said on the occasion.
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan paid his tributes to the 'saviours of humankind' and expressed deepest condolences to those who lost their lives while answering the call of duty.
"COVID-19 has only reaffirmed God-like selflessness of doctors. On National Doctors Day I join the country to pay tribute to saviours of humankind for their tireless service and express deepest condolences for those who lost their lives while answering the call of duty," he tweeted.
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