Record No of Doctors Died in Bihar During Second Covid-19 Wave. Here's What is Plaguing its Healthcare

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As fatalities continue to reach record high in second disastrous wave of Covid-19, the health care workers remain at the risk of getting affected. The Indian Medical Association in its report on Tuesday said out 269 doctors who died in the second wave of Covid-19, majority of the deaths were reported from Bihar with 78 fatalities.

In total, 122 doctors in Bihar have died of Covid-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic last year. Doctors attribute the higher fatality number of the health care workers to lesser number of doctors in state and lack of healthcare facilities.

In Patna's Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), one of the three major government hospitals in Patna treating Covid patients, doctors say that they don't get a quarantine period after working in covid wards.

"In other hospitals, after 5 days of duty the doctors are given 2 weeks of quarantine. But in NMCH you are working for days and you don't get a gap. This is the primary reason behind doctors getting infected," Dr Ramchandra Kumar, Junior Doctors' Association (JDA) president at NMCH said.

Kumar adds that the hospital doesn't have the required staff strength and facilities, due to which patients have to be transferred to other hospitals or to different states.

"The critical care treatment is not good in the hospital. If someone is required to shifted to ventilator beds, there aren’t sufficient facilities. There is shortage of BiPAP machines and there are negligible Anaesthetists. There are just 6 PG for Anaesthetists, whereas it should have been 50," Kumar said.

Kumar says that in many cases even doctors are unable to find proper treatment. He cites the example of a renowned cardiologist Dr Prabhat Kumar, who tested positive for Covid-19. Dr Prabhat was being treated at a private hospital in Patna, but couldn't get a proper treatment. He was later flown to Hyderabad where he is undergoing treatment.

In April, the doctors' organsiation at AIIMS in Patna had demanded a week-long rotational quarantine of doctors posted on covid duty. They had given a deadline of five days to the hospital administration to fulfil their demands failing which they threatened to go on a strike.

According to the IMA report, Uttar Pradesh reported the second highest deaths after Bihar with 37 fatalities followed by Delhi, 28. However, it is pertinent to note that worst affected states- Karnataka and Maharashtra-reported lesser deaths at 8 and 14, respectively.

The Indian Medical Association in Bihar said the majority of doctors in Bihar are in their middle ages, older than their counterparts in other states. The number of days that doctors have to work here is also greater in Bihar.

“The required strength of doctors in Bihar is around 17,000, but there are only 8,000 doctors in the government hospitals at present. Out of the 4,200 posts for doctors in medical colleges, there are around 2,000 doctors. In the primary health centers and referral hospitals, there are 13,500 sanctioned strength, but the current number is 6,500," Dr Sunil Kumar, Secretary, IMA Bihar said.

Sunil Kumar adds that the poor doctor to patient ratio and lack of quality PPE Kits further adds to the problem. "Even after so many seats remaining vacant, the state government is recruiting very less doctors, and that too on contractual basis for three months or six months," he said.

Only the families of 4 doctors have received the compensation, while the families of 138 doctors await the ex-gratia, Sunil Kumar adds. The Centre had announced a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the families of doctors who die of COVID-19. The Bihar government too had announced Rs 4 lakh as compensation.

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