Other States

IMA calls out Assam’s handling of pandemic

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has found fault with the way the Assam government has been handling the COVID-19 situation.

Also read: COVID-19 cases surge past 9,000 in Assam, death toll at 14

The IMA’s Assam branch on Tuesday said it would be difficult for the government to control the situation without proper planning in view of the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the State.

It pointed out that increasing hospital beds without manpower planning will be a futile exercise given the very limited resource in terms of doctors and health workers.

“IMA strongly protests the government’s order of engaging health workers and doctors in 11 days’ continuous service in the COVID wards and thereafter, only three days of quarantine before re-engaging them in COVID-19 duties subject to testing negative for the disease,” the Association said in a letter to Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

It said working 11 days at a stretch wearing PPE kits in the “torrid summer and without air-conditioning in most centres” would be exhausting for the COVID-19 warriors.

Fearing that the government’s decision would demoralise the frontline workers, the IMA opposed the decision to switch over to antigen tests for checking health workers engaged in COVID-19 duty. It stated that the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) had already mentioned this test was less sensitive and a negative test did not rule out COVID-19.

The antigen test requires confirmation of the negative status by a PCR test, it pointed out.

“IMA takes strong exception to the fact that already a large number of doctors and health workers has fallen victim to COVID-19 and such unplanned and insensitive steps will further endanger the health workers. The time is not far away when doctors and health workers will have to serve the people with COVID-19 in their persons,” the letter said.

The IMA demanded a critical review by the government as to why so many health workers and doctors had been affected by the disease. It advised the government to adhere to the ICMR’s advice of managing and supervising asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to get themselves treated at their homes, stating that it was not possible with limited resources and facilities to treat the large numbers of cases.

The IMA urged the 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. Otherwise, it warned, the much-vaunted "successful Assam model" would collapse in no time.

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2020 7:14:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ima-calls-out-assams-handling-of-pandemic/article32017338.ece

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