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::EXCLUSIVE::’Diapers under PPE’: State health workers put up valiant fight in the frontline  

State health workers taking part in a protest demonstration

Hospitals should be declared a protected zone, strengthen security augmentation in hospitals, stringent punishment be accorded to offenders and culprits under the provision of the law are among the demands of the IMA Manipur chapter.

By Paojel Chaoba

“I have even instructed some of our health workers to wear diapers under the PPE,” said a senior nursing officer of the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). On grounds of anonymity, she told The Frontier Manipur that the nurses and other health workers are sometimes wearing the PPE suits for six hours at a stretch.

“They cannot relieve themselves or eat and drink for the entire stretch of time because of the infection risk. With the summer heat and being inside a PPE, it is like being hold up in a steam bath chamber. Yet! The healthcare workers despite their tireless contributions are being abused and ridiculed, we cannot remain silent spectators any longer,” she said.

Decrying violence meted out to healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Manipur State branch organised a protest demonstration at its office located at Lamphel on Friday, under the slogan “Save the Saviours and Stop Assault on Profession and Professionals.”

Hospitals should be declared a protected zone, need for security augmentation in hospitals, stringent punishment be accorded to the offenders and culprits under the provision of the law are among the demands of the IMA Manipur chapter. The protests were held at different locations including Shija Hospital, Sky Hospital, Imphal Hospital, SRL Labs, Raj Medicity, Babina Diagnostics, and by teachers’ associations of JNIMS and RIMS and other districts etc.

Manipur branch IMA president Dr S Jugindra echoed the demands made by the association stating that in recent times, there has been a rise in incidents of violence against health workers nationwide. He said that about 700 doctors including six from the state who have given up their lives in the line of duty during the second wave, “The healthcare workers across the country work tirelessly to mitigate the disaster and serve the public, it is unfortunate that violence at the Covid workplaces is occurring from time to time. The recent incident at JNIMS Intensive Care Unit is condemnable, the public can take necessary legal recourse as per their grievances,” he said adding that the medical profession should not be made a mockery of and neither will health workers condone it, “Baba Ramdev debunking the Covid vaccine and medical science while taking the jab himself is nothing but an exhibition of double standard and unethical practice,” he concluded.

Dr K Palin, president of the Association of Healthcare Providers of India, Manipur chapter told The Frontier Manipur that the Shija Hospitals and Research Institute (SHRI) has been offering round-the-clock medical intervention to Covid patients. Out of 350 beds at the private institution, 140 beds are reserved for Covid and 43 fully equipped Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds are available. It was learnt that Manipur has a limited number of ICU beds in the government-run hospitals, the majority of the ICU beds are with private institutions. Dr Palin envisions an upgraded and broader medical health care providing system equipped with quality staffing. He said that it is understandable to grief at the demise of a loved one, but to blame it on the medical staff by resorting to violence and wanton destruction is “undue and condemnable”.

Chairman of the Manipur Red Cross society Dr Y Mohen joining the protest, grumbled why doctors and other medical staff should bear such abuses during such trying times. “During attacks, one sometimes feels like giving back a befitting blow as we are also human beings, though it remains a wish and we have to bear such humiliations as we save lives, not take them. We are in the business of saving people-and not hurting them, the public must know this,” he said.

During the nationwide protest movement, Covid and non-Covid services including vaccination were not affected in the state.

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