Health care workers say border curbs have hit medical services, tests in Delhi
At least 100 staff members of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) who live beyond Delhi’s borders have not been able to report for duty, as a result of these curbs.Updated: May 08, 2020 04:24 IST
Health care services – including Covid-19 testing – across Delhi have been affected, with neighbouring states closing down inter-state borders and barring the movement of even medical workers.
The Haryana government had shut the Faridabad border completely and implemented strict checks at the Gurugram border last week.
The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday advised resident welfare associations (RWAs) in Ghaziabad to ask doctors working in Delhi to stay in the Capital during the lockdown.
In a circular, the UP government said, “In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the RWAs are requested to advise doctors working in Delhi hospitals to stay in Delhi and offer their services during the lockdown so that more people do not get infected.”
At least 100 staff members of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) who live beyond Delhi’s borders have not been able to report for duty, as a result of these curbs. “There are many people who stay across the border who are now not able report for work. And, it is a significant number — at least a 100. This is impacting health services,” said a doctor from the hospital, on condition of anonymity.
Officials said more than 35% of health care workers in Safdarjung hospital have to commute across the border.
“The border issue needs to be sorted out fast. We are falling short of health care workers with around 35% of our staff living across the border. For now, we are asking people to work longer shifts or take double shifts, but that cannot be sustained. It is very difficult to pull off long shifts in Covid-19 areas. If immediate relief is not provided, our remaining health care workers will get exhausted very soon,” said Dr Manish Kumar, president of the resident doctors’ association of the hospital.
Health care workers said the closure of the borders had also hit Covid-19 testing facilities, which was a serious cause for concern.
“The lockdown at the border means samples cannot be moved and our trained manpower is unable to report for work at this crucial time. I am working with around 20% of my staff, which has impacted the number of tests that we can do in a day. There shouldn’t be any borders in the National Capital Region, and such minor issues should not impact the government’s hard work of ramping up testing capability,” said Dr Navin Dang, founder, Dr Dang’s Labs.
Delhi collects over 3,000 samples a day, but there have been several reports of results being delayed.
Several Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) who work in Delhi also live in Faridabad, hampering on-ground services, including contact tracing and screening for Covid-19 in areas across the Capital, health officials said.
“Many dispensaries are also not able to continue their immunisation services because ANMs working there are not able to cross the border,” said a Delhi government health official.