Assam govt’s Covid-19 management decisions whimsical, says IMA
The Assam unit of Indian Medical Association (IMA) is sore at the government for taking decisions without consulting stakeholders.Updated: Jul 07, 2020 22:00 IST
The Assam unit of Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Tuesday expressed resentment and reservations on certain policy changes by the state government on management of Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
In a letter addressed to health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (copy of which is with HT), the IMA unit said with present surge in Covid-19 cases in the state it will be difficult to control the situation in the absence of proper planning.
“Increasing hospital beds without manpower planning will be futile exercise as we have very limited resources in terms of doctors and health workers,” the IMA’s letter said.
Till Monday, Assam had recorded 12,522 Covid-19 positive cases. The state’s biggest city, Guwahati, and rest of Kamrup Metro district have been placed under total shutdown for 14 days beginning June 28 due to community spread of the disease.
“On Monday, the government issued a fresh set of guidelines increasing Covid duty for doctors from existing 7 days at a stretch to 11 days followed by 3 days in quarantine and resumption of duty after their tests come negative,” said Dr. Satyajit Borah, IMA Assam unit president.
“This was done without consultation with stakeholders. Working in Covid centres for 11-days at a stretch wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) kits in this summer without air-conditioning in most centres is very exerting and will demoralize frontline workers,” he added.
The IMA unit also opposed the government’s decision to switch over from RT-PCR tests to rapid antigen detection (RAD) tests for checking health workers engaged in COVID. It added that according to ICMR, the RAD test “is less sensitive and negative result does not rule out Covid”.
“Already a number of doctors and healthcare workers have fallen victim to Covid and such unplanned and insensitive steps will further endanger the health workers. IMA demands a critical review on why so many doctors and health workers are affected by the disease,” the letter stated.
Though exact figures of Covid-19 infection among doctors and health workers wasn’t available, IMA office bearers mentioned nearly 20-25 doctors have tested positive for the virus in the state.
“IMA urges the government to take experienced healthcare professionals and groups in confidence in proper planning to face the challenges rather than taking closed door and whimsical decisions. Otherwise the much talked about successful Assam model will collapse in no time,” the letter cautioned.
The IMA unit advised the state government to adhere to ICMR’s advice of management of asymptomatic Covid-19 patients in their homes in order to lessen burden on healthcare workers and facilities.
Reacting to the IMA letter, principal secretary (health and family welfare) Samir Kumar Sinha mentioned that he was aware of the issues raised and they will be sorted out after consultations.
“We had to raise the number of Covid duty days from 7 to 11 for healthcare workers due to the surge in cases. We have to provide medical services to the patients or else there will be more deaths,” Sinha said.
“Unlike RT-PCR test, which used to take several days to get results, the RAD test allows us to get results within an hour. Once the results come negative and their quarantine period is over, healthcare workers can get back to duty,” he added.
Health department officials requesting anonymity said keeping asymptomatic Covid-19 patients in home quarantine is tough for Assam as healthcare workers will need to pay visits regularly to monitor them. But a change in protocol is expected within the next few days.