India is quickly running out of doctors and nurses4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
We’ve read about how the world came to our aid when the Covid pandemic hit us for the second time. But, there’s one problem that foreign countries can’t help us with: doctors. No matter how much equipment and medicine we have, we need doctors to use the equipment and administer the medicines. Unfortunately, India has an extreme shortage of doctors and nurses even when we aren’t being engulfed by a notorious wave of this deadly pandemic.
Why is this happening?
Some countries fare better than others in their handling of the pandemic. For example, New Zealand and China proved that the virus could be stopped with prompt measures and an efficient healthcare system. India has suffered for a few reasons, the sheer population size has led to an enormous caseload; too much for the doctors and the fragile healthcare system to handle.
Unfortunately India doesn’t spend much on healthcare, and that includes doctors pay. The country currently has 10,189 people per doctor, falling short of the 1,000 people per doctor recommended by WHO. There are some instances of hospitals being unable to operate vital oxygen equipment such as ventilators because of the lack of trained staff to operate them. Additionally, the few nurses and doctors that are employed are tired. They suffer from fatigue and burnout. Others, worry they’ll catch the virus themselves. In fact, several doctors have caught the virus and been unable to report for duty.
Yet, this situation is confusing. There is no lack of trained nurses and doctors in the country. Due to reduced spending on healthcare, hospitals are unable to hire and pay more hospital staff. The low salaries offered by these hospitals often aren’t worth the risk and efforts taken by nurses and doctors.
What can we do?
- Recruit nurses in nursing schools across India, who are in their final year of college and are waiting to give their final exams. Instead of giving their final exams, they can be given the option to work in ICUs.
- Allow doctors that have completed training, but yet to give their exams, a chance to skip the exam and receive a degree by working in Covid ICUs.
- Let doctors who have completed valid courses abroad, treat covid 19 patients without waiting to take an Indian medical examination.
- Develop a telemedicine system, enabling doctors to treat and consult patients via video calls and messaging services, allowing them to share their expertise to remote areas where there is a shortage of doctors and also allows them to a high number of patients. This would encourage retired doctors to contribute and reduces the risk of contacting Covid.
- Discourage mild Covid patients from burdening the healthcare system. Unfortunately, the pandemic has come to a point where we must prioritise our resources, hence Covid ICU beds should be reserved for those with serious symptoms such as shortness of breath and low oxygen level. Those with minor symptoms should be encouraged to stay at home and beat the illness themselves.
Do you think it’s important that we have more doctors?
What do you think the solution to this problem is?
Would you like to be a doctor or nurse someday?
With Excerpts From: Scroll, Scroll, The Hindu, The Print, Indian Express, Indian Express, Times of India, Livemint and Economic Times