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The doctor's take on Covid-19 .


By Manohar Yadavatti

Bengaluru, July 27, (HS) 
The Corona virus pandemic has not only affected the common people but doctors and health workers at large with many casualties in the health sector across the country and elsewhere.

According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), the parental body of the medical fraternity, till now 93 doctors on Covid-19 duty have died so far. Dr Ranjan Sharma, head of IMA disclosed that 1,279 doctors have been tested positive so far. Among them, 771 doctors are less than 35 years of age, 247 doctors above 35 and 261 are above 50 years.

These numbers do not include the health workers like nurses, para-medical staff and related workers. However, the IMA is working on a research paper to find out the causes leading to the deaths. Probably these findings may throw further light on the exact reasons for fatalities and infections among the medical professionals.

If deaths are an irksome factor in the given circumstances, the facilities at some, both government and private hospitals are horrible as far as well being of the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and related workers are concerned.

In the Prime Minister's home state of Gujarat, doctors, interns and health workers underwent challenges risking their own lives at a private hospital near Vadodara and owned by a congressman now in jail to get Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) while on 24x7 duty for a fortnight.

The plight of those on Covid-19 duties had literally gone pathetic and the requests for proper hygiene, sanitizers and precautionary safety equipment had gone on the deaf ears. As their repeated pleas to the hospital Management went unnoticed, they were compelled to send SOS messages and emails to the state Health Secretary, ministers, Chief Minister and even the PMO as well.

Whether such panic calls made any positive impact or not, no one knows. But thanks to Rotary Club, the PPE equipment was made available for free.

Dr Goutham Kulamarwa, a leading ENT Surgeon based out of Kasargod in Kerala opines says, “It is important that we have a plan for our own self and near and dear ones. 
Mangaluru is an example. A Doctor working in a medical college couldn’t get admission in his own hospital sighting some frivolous reasons. Wenlock (Government hospital, Mangaluru) is not accepting patients. If any of us need a bed, it won’t be easy. Doctors in Wenlock and in the taskf are facing exhaustion. If and when the disease spreads in Kasaragod (hope and pray it doesn’t) we won’t have time to organise ourselves as everyone will be too busy managing the Covid-19 patient load. Therefore, it is better we have some concrete plan to look after ourselves.”

At the same time, he also expresses concern and gives examples from Bellary and Mandya adding that one needs to ensure the following:

1. Hospital bed to be looked after
2. Availability of crucial medicines 
3. Availability of ICU beds and ventilators
4. Protocol or qualifying patient pool (who all should be included in this closed patient pool because there will be relatives and friends influencing when resources are scarce)
5. Management protocol as per the best evidence available (even when it is not included in ICMR guidelines)
6. Human Resource to manage these beds
7. Funding and the modes of doing it (There is Covid-19 insurance available for a small premium of 400/- for 3 months for Karnataka Bank account holders, provided by universal sompo- V  so one can negotiate something similar with them for say 6 months)

Dr SR Narahari, director and chief dermatologist on Filariasis and Integrated Treatment at the Institute of Applied Dermatology(IAD), Kasargod in Kerala endorses his co doctors views, “I agree with the opinion of Dr Goutham and all the seven points he mentioned.”

“Corona is on the verge of community spread and can affect anyone because doctors and health workers are most susceptible. We should urgently chalk out plans for the treatment facilities for us and our family.”

Dr KS Prasanna, Dermatologist at the Institute of Applied Dermatology, Kasargod in Kerala recalls an incident to explain her take on helping the ones in need, 
“One Friday in December 1998, Dr SR Narahari, was in the process of inviting people in and around Kasaragod for our house warming. That day, he went to one of our neighbour’s house.  As he was speaking with them, the grandmother of a newborn girl rushed out, completely distressed. She was holding the baby in her arms. The newborn was blind. Both the mother and grandmother wept, requesting the doctor to render any aid to the completely blind infant.
Dr SR Narahari was distraught to see the blind baby. The image of the baby, born into the world without its light, haunted him, and he slaved for a solution. He learnt extensively about corneal transplantation. The parents of the child are daily wage workers, and so financing the transplant would be a huge issue.
The process of transplantation was arduous. The doctors would transplant only one eye. They had to go to LV Prasad Eye Hospital in Hyderabad, get examined by the experts, and get the transplant within 24 hours of finding the cornea of a year old baby. This tedious process demanded them to stay in an expensive city.
Dr SR Narahari did much homework and finally succeeded in getting a flat of his friend’s, which was close to the hospital, Hyderabad. The parents would go to the hospital, wait there for the cornea of a one-year-old child and return.”

She added, “This process went on every day, staying in the same flat without rent. A few of Dr SR Narahari's friends took care of the other expenses in Hyderabad, which indeed boosted the family’s morale. Three months later, the transplant was scheduled, and the cornea came from an infant who died in an accident. This was in the year 1999 when corneal transplantation was unheard in most places of India. The blind child underwent the transplant. After the surgery, they visited the experts regularly for the next two months, staying in the same flat. Slowly, the baby started to see through the right eye. They came back home, and further corrections and minor surgeries were performed locally. By the time she played like any other children.”

“Last week on July 9, the girl came along with her mother, announcing that she was going to get engaged, and asked for Dr Narahari's blessings and said that he helped her in childhood which improved my life. She said that is what she is because of him, and she didn’t forget this in her entire life. They find God in him,” she said adding that Dr SR Narahari did his best to help the blind girl. He has helped thousands of Lymphedema patients without any remuneration. Helping a person in need is their duty.

Hindusthan Samachar