Understanding government measures to ensure safety of India's healthcare workers
As people across the nation practice social distancing amid an enforced lockdown, it is important to remember that flattening the Covid-19 curve does not mean eradicating the virus. What the lockdown and social distancing hope to achieve is to slow the spread of the virus. This, in turn, will reduce the strain on our healthcare system. A flatter curve assumes the same number of people ultimately get infected, but over a longer time, thus, giving healthcare institutions a better chance to respond effectively.
Keeping this in mind, it is imperative that doctors and healthcare professionals at the forefront of the battle against coronavirus have government support in the form of various measures ensuring their safety. A letter from the Department of Health and Family Welfare lists several such measures that are to be implemented in all government and private hospitals and medical colleges.
1. The Department of Health Research and the Indian Council for Medical Research have recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis of Covid-19.
2. Nearly 5.11 lakh PPEs have been supplied to various states and hospitals by the central government, adding to the initially available stock in the states of 2.75 lakh PPEs.
3. More than 50 domestic manufacturers have cleared quality tests for PPE kits and orders for nearly 1 crore PPEs have been placed.
4. Healthcare workers who examined a confirmed case without adequate protection are being tested for Covid-19.
5. A high level multi-disciplinary team has been deputed to assist states in cluster containment and ICU as well as ventilator management.
Guidelines released by the MoHFW mandate timely payment to frontline workers such as ASHAs and service providers. Psychological support is being provided via a toll-free helpline for healthcare workers as well as by disseminating training modules for stress management on the ministry website.
Capacity building of medical manpower as well as non-medical logistics and surveillance is an essential aspect of the fight against Covid-19 and the government has published guidance for states on the human resources that can be mobilized for Covid-19 management along with possible role assignments and their training requirements.
The Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT)-Diksha platform is being utilized to conduct uniform training sessions for healthcare professionals across the country.
Further, under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana, the government has announced an accidental insurance cover of INR 50 lakhs for 22.12 lakh healthcare workers who may be drafted for services to Covid-19 patients. The scheme covers loss of life due to Covid-19 and accidental death on account of Covid-19 related duties. The insurance scheme has been sanctioned and the premium has been paid to the respective companies by the government.
As the fight against Covid-19 rages, these latest updates show the Indian government’s strong commitment to ensure the safety and dignity of the country’s COVID-19 frontline workers.