India: 96 doctors succumb to COVID-19 in Bihar during second wave

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The Indian state of Bihar has reported the highest number of deaths of doctors from COVID-19 in the country during its second wave, triggering panic among the medical fraternity. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Patna: The Indian state of Bihar has reported the highest number of deaths of doctors from COVID-19 in the country during its second wave, triggering panic among the medical fraternity.

According to a report of the Indian medical Association (IMA) released on Thursday, of the total 329 doctors falling victims to COVID-19, 96 (ninety six) alone are from Bihar, a state where the patient-doctor ratio already remains a matter of serious concern.

Against the national patient-doctor ratio of 1.4 doctors per 1,000 patients, it is one doctor for 2,400 patients in Bihar. This amply explains how the death of doctors is a big loss for Bihar. During the first wave, 49 doctors had died.

All these doctors, quite many of them renowned physicians, surgeons, radiologists and heart specialists, died during the past two months when the second wave hit the state in April. After Bihar, the maximum casualties of doctors has been reported from Delhi (73 deaths), followed by 41 in Uttar Pradesh, 22 in Andhra Pradesh, 20 in Telangana, 15 in West Bengal, 14 each in Maharashtra and Odisha, and rest from other Indian states, according to an IMA report.

More dedicated

“The viral load of doctors is very high since they remain in contact with the patients all the time. This is killing the members of medical community,” IMA’s national president Dr Shahjanand Prasad Singh said. According in him, the doctors in Bihar are more dedicated and emotional towards their works and they like to serve the patients even in adverse circumstances.

IMA’s acting state president for Bihar Dr Ajay Kumar cites other reasons behind the death of doctors. “The doctors have not taken any rest in the last one year. They have been only working and working which left them exhausted. This has adversely affected their immunity which is now proving deadlier,” Dr Kumar said. He said the inadequate number of doctors in the state left them on the forefront of the disease since there is no option.

For Bihar IMA president Dr Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said lack of proper medical infrastructure had proved costlier for their community. “With limited number of beds at super-specialty health facilities like All Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS-Patna)and Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), both in Patna, even doctors have been struggling for beds,” he said.

Keeping in view the severity of the situation, resident doctors from AIIMS-Patna have demanded for reserving certain number of beds for doctors at AIIMS so that the infected doctors could be treated. They have threatened to go on strike from May 24 if their demand is not met.

“We have been continuously engaged in treating COVID-19 patients. In such a situation if we themselves get infected, we should get proper treatment but we too have been facing problems in getting beds,” Resident Doctors Association president Dr Vinay Kumar said.

Likewise, more than 50 MBBS interns have stopped works at IGIMS and proceeded on strike from Friday seeking health insurance for COVID-19 duty period. They are also demanding hike in wages.

Medical kits

Junior doctors at Nalanda Medical College and Hospital, another health facility in Patna, have protested supply of substandard medical kits for doctors and alleged the government was playing with their lives.

“The doctors are falling victims to COVID-19 but the government is not serious towards our condition. It is supplying substandard N-95 masks which have maximum chances of infecting doctors,” alleged NMCH Junior Doctor Association president Dr Ramchandra Kumar. According to him, the N-95 masks being supplied to them lack nose clips.

IMA’s state secretary Dr Sunil Kumar said they have been regularly holding condolence meetings. He urged the government to supply quality medical kits in hospitals so that the doctors remained safe.

Roughly, there are around 30,000 registered doctors in Bihar, out of which some 18,000 work in government hospitals while the rest are employed in private sector.