The Assam chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA) on July 7 has strongly protested the state government’s new order regarding engaging health workers and doctors in 11 days of continuous service in the COVID-19 wards.
The new order stated that all health workers and doctors in the state will go on a 3-day institutional quarantine only after 11 days of continuous work and will be reengaged based on Antigen kit test for COVID-19.
In a letter to Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the local chapter of the IMA strongly protested the decision and expressed great resentment and reservations on the recent policy changes of the state government on the management of COVID-19 situation.
IMA urged upon the state government to take experienced healthcare professionals and groups in confidence in proper planning to face the challenges “rather than taking closed door and whimsical decisions”.
It said if proper planning is not done the COVID-19 situation in the state “may go out of control”.
“Otherwise the much-talked-about successful Assam model will collapse in no time,” IMA said.
“With the present surge of COVID-19 patients, it will be difficult for the government to control the situation if proper planning is not done. Increasing hospital beds without manpower planning will be futile exercise as we have very limited resource in terms of doctors and health workers,” Satyajit Borah, State President and Hemanga Baishya, State Secretary of IMA wrote to the health minister.
The letter said that the government’s decision engaging health workers for 11 continuous days wearing full PPE kits and in this torrid summer, will demoralize the frontline workers.
“IMA strongly protests the government’s order of engaging health workers and doctors in 11 days of continuous service in the COVID-19 Wards and thereafter only 3 days of quarantine before re-engaging them in COVID-19 duties subject to testing negative for the disease. It does not require mention that working in COVID-19 wards continuously for 11 days wearing full PPE kits and in this torrid summer, without air-conditioning in most centres, would be very much exerting and exhausting and IMA fears the government’s decision will demoralize the frontline workers,” IMA said.
Moreover, IMA has strongly protested the government’s decision to switch over to antigen tests for checking health workers engaged in COVID-19 duty.
“The ICMR has already mentioned that this test is less sensitive and a negative test does not rule out COVID-19, moreover requires confirmation of the negative status by a PCR test,” it said.
IMA also demanded a critical review by the government why so many health workers and doctors are affected by the disease while working with the disease.
“IMA takes strong exception to the fact that already a large number of doctors and health workers have suffered from COVID-19 and such unplanned and insensitive steps will further endanger the health workers. Time is not far away that doctors and health workers will have to serve the people with COVID-19,” it said.
IMA also advised the government to adhere to ICMR’s advice of managing and supervising asymptomatic COVID-19 patients who qualify for home treatment to get themselves treated in their homes as it is not possible with limited resources and facilities to treat the large numbers of cases.