Good intentions are not enough

Monday Musing

[ Junroi Mamai ]
On 3 May, the Indian armed forces extended their gratitude to all healthcare workers and ‘corona warriors’ across the country by organizing fly-pasts by jet fighters and helicopters over state capitals, aerial flower showers, and performance of military bands outside hospitals. This special gesture of gratitude was announced by Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat.
A ton of flowers was showered over the state’s designated Covid-19 hospital, Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (TRIHMS), in Naharlagun, too, as a tribute to the state’s healthcare workers and other ‘corona warriors’.
Undoubtedly, all our hardworking doctors, health staffers and personnel of the police department deserve support and encouragement. We all know how hard they have been working throughout the nationwide lockdown period to control the pandemic despite facing social stigma.
We all know how doctors and nurses were treated in our state while they were performing their duties. Some of them were asked to leave their rented houses, while others were strictly disallowed by their landlords to leave their houses. On top of that, doctors, nurses and other health staffers faced acute shortage of basic personal protection equipment (PPE). They were supposed to perform their duties, risking possible Covid-19 infection, putting themselves and their families’ lives at risk.
In the midst of these circumstances, the ‘special gesture’, though morally encouraging for the health workers and other ‘corona warriors’, seemed little more than a placatory gesture by the government for the frontline workers and the masses.
We are all aware that these frontline workers had earlier on numerous occasions reported shortage of PPE at the state’s various health facilities. During the initial phase of the nationwide lockdown to fight against Covid-19, doctors and health staffers at TRIHMS were not even provided with adequate hand sanitizers. It was only later, after much controversy, that the doctors received the necessary PPE and testing kits.
It is sad that our doctors and health staffers are compelled to face the threat of possible Covid-19 infection and work with limited facilities at decrepit hospitals which had for years remained understaffed and ill-equipped. We are all aware of the pathetic condition of the hospitals, PHCs and CHCs in the state’s capital, and the almost absent health facilities in the district hospitals.
Even now, the PPE and testing kits that have been provided to the medical staffers posted at various district hospitals are largely inadequate. In some districts, anganwadi workers are still performing their duties without masks and gloves.
There is already a lot of pressure on the state’s numerous doctors and health workers, especially on those engaged in Covid-19 duties. Lately, the state’s doctors have been demanding adequate screening devices and test kits for screening suspected cases among those returning from outside the state. With the state government’s recent decision to bring back natives of Arunachal stranded outside in a phase-wise manner, there will be an increased risk of possible Covid-19 infection. Therefore, the state government should ensure that necessary precautions are taken and the state’s health staffers are adequately equipped.