On 26th December 2019, an elderly couple’s trip to a hospital in Zhang got the doctors confused. They showed the symptoms of common pneumonia and influenza, but the tests came out negative. Perplexed at these odd results, they went through with a CT scan for the lungs, and this time, after the results came out, a series of events took place which ultimately leads to the discovery of COVID-19.
Today, with over 13 million confirmed cases and more than 500,000 deaths worldwide, Covid-19 is leading to a high influx of patients seeking treatments in the hospitals, and, as a direct consequence, the doctors are getting overworked trying to combat the disease in the front line. Which begs the question, how important are doctors in the treatment of COVID-19?
Although no direct cure for COVID-19 is available, there are treatments available to combat the symptoms, which includes medications to reduce fever, painkillers and, in some severe cases, supplemental oxygen and respirator to help the patients breathe. These treatments require keeping tabs on the patients regularly, devising proper treatment plans, and administering the appropriate dosage of medications.
There are thousands of doctors and health care professionals worldwide who are going through rigorous shifts at the hospitals, diagnosing and keeping tabs on hundreds of patients. The physical strain that they bear to protect and cure is making them more vulnerable to the disease. Without proper and adequate PPE suits and masks, even doctors are coming down with the disease. In India, IMA estimates that over 90 doctors have died on Covid-19 duty and over 1000 infected, causing the hospitals to lose more staffs when they need them the most. While doctors are struggling with Covid-19 first hand, government apathy towards them is only adding fuel to the blaze. Long hours, low salaries, less social recognition (sometimes even assault) and inadequate PPE suits are causing many healthcare workers to develop anxiety and depression. If that is not enough, several doctors and nurses are getting evicted and ostracized by the public for fear of being infected, such as in Delhi’s AIIMS, as reported by Quartz India. Following this, on 25th March, India’s health minister, Harsh Vardhan, appealed to people to not panic and stop harassing doctors.
In these troubling times, these doctors need support, from the public as well as the government. Their appreciation cannot be shown with flowers and bouquets but rather respect and adequate equipment and staffs, that will, in turn, help them do their job. And no matter how hard it gets, it shouldn’t be forgotten that these doctors and healthcare workers are only human beings. Pushing them beyond their limits will only cause them harm.