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Saluting doctors: The pandemic fighters

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On National Doctors’ Day – an occasion to pay tribute to doctors and their contributions to the society – Express Healthcare salutes these medical professionals for showing their bravery and perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even while facing numerous challenges and hardships, they did not turn back from their responsibilities of saving as many lives as possible by giving their best. These doctors share their experiences with us, while other healthcare industry stakeholders also expressing their gratitude towards these life saviours:

 Dr Samir Sud, co-founder and Director, Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals

 “The world is indeed indebted to the dedication, commitment, care and contribution of our doctors and healthcare workers, especially in these unprecedented crises where the global pandemic COVID-19 is threatening mankind. The general masses are overwhelmed by the sacrifices of our doctors and other healthcare professionals, and simultaneously bear the sense of responsibility for their code of conduct that tends to be under the capacity of human control but can worsen due to sheer negligence. From providing quality treatment to the masses to conducting researches of therapeutics and prevention formulas, it has been a whole lot of work for doctors in reverence of duties.

“The doctors and scientists have been studying the constantly mutating COVID-19 virus and coming up with safe and effective vaccines and cure to combat the changing nature of this deadly disease. As the masses are shaken and aghast from the impact of the global pandemic, they are looking for answers to their unresolved questions. Going by the significant burden of the overwhelming quantities of data and information in regard to COVID virus, as doctors, it gets hard to recommend appropriate treatments to our patients. We, as frontliners, have always been expected to ensure to have the necessary protective equipment at our behest to save the nation from adverse effects and we wish to live by that and do our best till our last breath.”

 Ameera Shah, Secretary, NATHEALTH, and MD, Metropolis Healthcare

“India today is as diverse in its COVID immunogenicity as it is in caste, communities and religion. We can be segregated into vaccinated and non-vaccinated. Both these groups can be further sub-grouped into previously infected or not; further again into asymptomatic or symptomatic and post-hospitalisation. Another nuance is the variant each of us contracted – VOC or VOI. How long did we suffer COVID sequelae and how many organ systems in our body did it impact? Have we developed a strong humoral antibody and cell-mediated immune protection and what is the efficacy against the multitude of strains sequenced so far? Likewise, the hospitals and diagnostic labs can also be divided into those that steered the first wave with grit and determination and those that rode the second wave with strategic planning. How are each of these preparing for the third wave dependent on all of the above and their experience against the statistics we see daily on our TV and smartphone screens?

“As the virus is novel, the preparation, policies and rules were novel too, but now that many hospitals and diagnostic centres have decoded this puzzle, they are much better prepared in technology and science. Operations have been scaled, digitisation weaved in the standard procedures, personnel trained, infrastructure created, supply chain stitched, working hours and workstations remodelled, oxygen plants set up, pediatric and intensive care units curated, professional indemnity and life insurance cover secured, hybrid models created, and public private partnerships and collaborations strengthened. The Indian states and healthcare organisations which managed the first and second wave of the pandemic, transparently, systematically, accurately and in scale are well-prepared for the third wave. While we all hope that it doesn’t peak as high or as impactfully as the previous one, we know that we will win over even if it does. The entire medical force of our country has been working tirelessly without any break for the last one-and-a-half year saving millions of lives each day. They have put their own health at risk and provided the best care to their patients. On this Doctors’ Day, they truly deserve our salute. It is needless to reiterate that each and every human being in the country should be grateful to them and recognise their continuous and selfless effort for saving our country.”

Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, Group Medical Director, Max Healthcare

“The third wave is being widely discussed and the chances are that it might happen earlier than previously predicted. This could be owing to several factors including people not adhering to COVID-appropriate behaviour of masking, social distancing and continued hesitancy for vaccination. Usually, the population at the highest risk are the elderly with comorbidities. However, the second wave proved that younger (non-vaccinated) people were equally at a risk of catching the infection. What is also worrisome is that the pace at which the vaccination drive is taking place across the country has helped vaccinate (both doses) less than seven per cent of the entire population. The earlier thought that a large number of the adult population would be infected or vaccinated (by now) and hence would develop antibodies, is untrue so far. That leaves a significant number of adult population vulnerable to COVID-19 infection during the future wave.

“Meanwhile, we are training more staff (including emergency and critical care) to handle paediatric cases, added to our existing infrastructure in terms of ventilator and ICU beds and added trained manpower, among others. We are hopeful that the oxygen situation will also be better as will be the availability of essential drugs. However, if the number of patients is large, available healthcare is likely to be overwhelmed, as we saw during the previous waves. India is in a precarious situation as far as its disease burden of both communicable as well as non-communicable diseases. National Doctors’ Day is observed every year, but it gains a deeper significance during a raging global pandemic and every individual’s role count. Let us thank the doctors – the noble healers – who are fighting the pandemic.

Dr Vishal Sehgal, President, Medical Services, Portea Medical

“COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge for healthcare workforce. It has not only caused a large number of fatalities across India, but has also taken its toll on the doctors, nurses, hospital attendants, laboratory personnel, etc. In the face of the biggest health crisis of the century, they have braved the risk of infection to constantly deliver care to the patients and focussed on saving as many lives as possible. Even when the government imposed lockdowns to protect the public, the healthcare personnel had to continue working for long hours. A lot of doctors and nurses working in COVID-19 facilities even stayed away from their families in a bid to ensure that the infection doesn’t reach them.

“All this stress, along with workplace challenges such as lack of medicines and the crippling shortage of oxygen, didn’t deter them from their duties. It is commendable how all the healthcare workers across verticals such as institutional and at home have overcome the physical and mental health challenges faced by them in the line of duty. The pandemic has been a great mission and learning for all stakeholders. The need of the hour is for efficiency in healthcare delivery to focus on the seamless integration of efforts by caregivers inside the hospitals as well as those who work at patients’ homes.”

Nilesh Aggarwal, CEO, IJCP Group, and founder, Medtalks.in

“The pandemic has been by far the biggest challenge for the healthcare infrastructure globally. The condition has been even more challenging in India due to inadequate infrastructure and lack of adequate medically qualified and trained personnel. The number of doctors in India is lower than even the minimum WHO prescription of one doctor per 1,000 people. This is where digital medical knowledge-sharing platforms have acted as force – multipliers during the pandemic. In the wake of the pandemic, when medical conferences, workshops as well as on-premises trainings were cancelled, online CME platforms have ensured that the flow of knowledge continued. From health updates to acquiring new procedural knowledge, additional skills and certifications to training the healthcare workforce such as nurses, hospital attendants and other staff, a lot of good work has been done by digital platforms and home healthcare providers.

“On our part, we have understood their challenges and tried to make information available to them on a daily basis, reaching out to a large number of medical practitioners. During this pandemic period, Medtalks has connected to more than 14,00,000 people through various online platforms. The reach of our online knowledge-sharing platforms is significantly augmenting the public awareness as well as the knowledge resources of the healthcare professionals. On this Doctors’ Day, it is important to acknowledge their contributions and move forward with an integrated healthcare framework involving all stakeholders.”

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