Our health workers need to be healthy – The Economic Times

Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/et-editorial/our-health-workers-need-to-be-healthy/articleshow/88741686.cmsSynopsis

The third wave of Covid-19 is upon us and presenting a major crisis for the healthcare sector, even as the number of hospitalisations has so far been lower than the far deadlier second wave. The effect of large numbers of healthcare workers contracting Covid is that it becomes virtually impossible to continue providing medical services for the wider population. An intervention is required to strengthen manpower and firm up their bench strength. Healthcare workers are among those who have not had a break from the pandemic. The troughs of the pandemic have simply not been low enough. Covid added an array of complications and demands to the usual array of illnesses and issues medical professionals have to deal with.

Over these two years, there has been a slow erosion in the resilience of doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff. This third (milder) wave is more infectious. So, no surprise it is impacting healthcare workers. It is doing so at a rate that is disrupting medical services with entire wards being shut down. Even with low levels of hospitalisation, there is a danger of the system being overwhelmed. Responding to this crisis requires augmenting auxiliary services like telemedicine to manage initial flow to hospitals, increased home testing, stepping up preventive measures like masking and aggressive completion of vaccination. The decision to deploy medical and nursing students to assist in Covid treatment wards taken last year should be continued. There is a need for advance planning for newer strains – there is a new strain that has originated in southern France and is present in the US. This requires increasing genome sequencing.

Compromised cardiopulmonary health on account of poor air quality could enhance Covid-related hospitalisation despite Omicron‘s lower level of virulence. There is a need to guard against complacency. There is no guarantee that a new variant will not emerge as we allow the current variant to run riot. Prevention still is the best assistance we can give healthcare professionals.

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