Monday, January 18, 2021

Primary task

There is no denying that our health sector was already under tremendous pressure ever since this COVID-19 emergency began. Since it was a never-known-before crisis, none exactly knew what to do, and where to get the material and human resource for that. Medical knowledge about virus and plague is something different. The actual meeting of the challenge at the ground level is a completely different ball game. In a firefighting mood the health system flung into action and tried to put things in place. How far did it succeed and how much weaknesses were exposed all this while is a matter of a dedicated study, but the stories that came out during this time were appreciative of the doctors and paramedics who left no stone unturned in doing tests, and managing the affected people. After many weeks we thought that an extended period of lockdown would give the Government a chance to boost its health sector and make it ready to meet any eventuality given this pandemic. True, that many things were done on a war footing, but the question that still haunts us all is whether our health sector is now ready to manage the growing number of COVID-19 positives. The number of COVID-19 cases in the State – 539 as of today, out of which 342 are active cases and rising daily – must set the alarm bells ringing, in the face of a collapsing healthcare system. Can our hospitals and the testing facilities accommodate this growing number of patients? In this situation if anything goes wrong, we will actually waste all the hard work and sacrifices made till now. So it is a very tough time for the people at the helm, and also a deep worry for the people at large. If our resources to fight COVID-19 are spreading too thin, that is a problem. If the numbers mount at this speed, our systems are bound to collapse. One can only hope that we succeed in bringing down the number of affected people, and simultaneously scale up our preparedness. Here we cannot but reiterate the need to take extra caution to ensure the safety of doctors and paramedics as well as other frontline workers. From the day this crisis brought our lives to standstill, they have been exposed to more dangers than the rest of us. Doctors and paramedic staff dealing directly with COVID-19 patients are the most vulnerable lot. That was the reason why there were voices from the first day that special care should be taken to safeguard the lives of those who, in this critical time, are saving the lives of others. In the beginning when even PPEs were not available to doctors, they performed their professional duties with great passion. This is the first line of defense in this war against COVID-19. In case there are chinks in this armour the entire edifice of defense will weaken. While so far there are no reports of any doctors or nurses testing positive for COVID-19 in the State, the reports that so far at least 3 frontline workers in State capital Kohima have tested positive for COVID-19 has raised disturbing questions. It has certainly called into question the safety of frontline workers amidst rising COVID-19 cases in the State. The primary task is to raise the defense, and make available to these frontline workers whatever is needed in this situation. It has now been some months into this crisis, and if the administration has not done what is required to be done for frontline workers, it calls for a serious and immediate attention. It is true, that all lives are equal. Anyone who is lost to this pandemic is a precious life. We cannot hierarchize humans when it comes to life. While all efforts should be made to save every single life that can be saved, the situation demands that extra caution be taken in case of doctors, paramedics and other frontline workers, because they are in the line of fire, and as long as they are safe they can save more lives. Them getting affected is a very grave issue that needs immediate attention.