Indian Frontline workers continue to Fight

Covid 19 Frontline doctors and healthcare staff remain to be the first line of defence against the virus, sometimes at a personal cost sometimes. More than 2.5 million cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed. Hospitals in Delhi and other cities have run out of oxygen, ventilators and essential medicines. Hospitals, morgues and crematoriums are overwhelmed and forced to turn many people away. 46-year-old Pinky Rao works as a helper at the MB Hospital in Udaipur. She leaves her diabetic mother and a 2-year-old at home, to take care of the sanitation of patients in the ICU.

Frontline workers

According to a recent report by the Financial Commission 60% of hospital beds are in the private sector and only 1.4 beds are available per 1000 population. There’s also a significant deficit in the sub centres, primary healthcare centres and community healthcare centres, that provide the first rung of the public healthcare system.

The Central government introduced life insurance coverage for frontline workers who had died due to covid-19 or while on Covid-19 duty, as part of the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana. However, in March 2021 the government issued a circular to end the insurance, leaving the workers to fend for their own. After unions protested, the government extended it for another year. However, the majority of claims made by the families of frontline workers have been rejected or are still pending.

Sanitation has a very important part in the treatment of Covid-19. We clean the bathrooms, gives sponge wash to our patients otherwise they can get bed sores. We help Covid patients who have problems defecating, we clean their feces. That’s the least we can do for them, we do not know how to treat patients but we can help in some way, and we must.

India is one of the largest vaccine manufacturers, yet has only been able to vaccinate 2% of its 1.3 billion population. While rich countries are on their way to getting the majority of their population vaccinated, India needs to be able to draw on the unused public vaccine production facilities and produce generic vaccines as soon as possible. The government has allowed 1-2 pharmaceutical companies to monopolise production thus dictating prices to our government, consuming scarce public finances at a time when we need more public funds for a healthy recovery.

Thousands of healthcare staff across the country are succumbing to the virus every day while serving patients in overwhelmed hospitals. But as India struggles to fight against Covid-19, frontline warriors stand as our only ray of hope.

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