Staff na dikhiya bi dikhi aase: CMO
DIMAPUR, NOVEMBER 26: “It’s the Year of the Medical,” notes Dr Merenla, officiating Chief Medical Officer, Dimapur. And for Nagaland, that is spot on ~ manifolds ~ given the unprecedented overhaul witnessed in the health sector in the Year 2020. “Staff na dikhiya bi dikhi aase (The usually unseen/truant staff (of Medical Department) are visible,” the CMO quips, substantiating her observation, that also broadly sums up the distressing reality of the Government sector in Nagaland.
Like never before, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nagaland has pierced through the veneer of robustness that is dedicatedly projected by an event-management culture of governance. The beyond deplorable condition of the health sector was laid bare as chaos rang out loud even before the corona virus had manifested itself in its alarming avatar within the State. Nagaland was not expected to impress with its handling of the pandemic considering the dismal ground realities in the larger parts of the State. But it was the situation in Dimapur, the thriving commercial capital and once arguably the fastest growing town in the Northeast, which stirred the hornets’ nest, and stripped naked the ill-managed state of affairs.
Another winter has arrived and with it the growing apprehensions of spike in positive cases, more so given the complacency of the common man. But there apparently has been a sea change in the functioning of the Medical Department in Dimapur, with optimum human resource mustered on deck working as a team with a better management in place.
Answering to queries this Thursday afternoon at her office, Dr. Merenla acknowledged there was chaos initially, and while the medical staff were not shying from the piling pressure, lack of direction had created chaos. Dr. Merenla took over as officiating CMO in August, after the then-incumbent CMO was transferred.
“We have managed to streamline (functioning of medical team) a lot, and particularly concentrating on contact tracing,” she informs. Seven teams with 15-20 staffs each have been tasked with the job of contact tracing and basic COVID care in urban and rural Dimapur. Each team consists of 2 Medical Officers, 1 Pharmacist and 1 Surveillance Worker, besides others. The Community Health Centres have been tasked with the same job in the interior areas of Dimapur district. Moreover 2 mobile vans for door-door sample collection in special cases have been put into use. “In Chumukedima COVID Care Centre, the Pathologist who is also the doctor in-charge (Dr. Atoka Wotsa) is himself driving a van with his team for sample collection,” Dr. Merenla informs.
The road ahead this winter might not be as bad as expected, Dr. Merenla assures, but that would depend a lot on the public, as well as how effective the district administration and police are in ensuring that rules are followed.
Citing cases of the general public flouting COVID-19 SoPs, the CMO informs that majority of positive cases detected through contact tracing the previous week are those who have been part of family and other social gatherings.
Pleading to the public not to flout the rules, Dr. Merenla says, “We are somehow managing even though there is an inevitable shortage of human resource, and I am confident our Department can handle the situation in Dimapur. But if people are not careful and cases rise, many frontline workers will face burn-out.”
When this Correspondent pointed out a couple of cases in which the medical team has been delayed in their response to positive cases, the CMO Dimapur said that despite round-the-clock surveillance and contact tracing, discrepancies cannot be completely ruled out. “Shortage of human resource is made more critical with doctors and other frontline workers testing positive, and in such cases delays in response occur.”
But, the CMO assures, the medical team in Dimapur is alert to combat the pandemic. “Those who were not in the habit of attending to their duties are also working. But the public too has to shoulder responsibility so that the situation does not get any worse. People need to follow rules laid down for social gatherings, and events, and even on the streets. There is no room for complacency.”