NEW DELHI: Away from families, fighting at the frontline against covid-19 pandemic, Indian nurses on Wednesday urged the government to provide them risk allowance, dignity and full salaries. In a conversation with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, four nurses from India and abroad shared their experiences in handling the pandemic and their expectations from the government.
“Risk allowance should be given to nurses and doctors at least at this point of time because we are losing lives. We are exhausted and we are fighting in the front line without any fear," said Vipin Krishnan, a nurse from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) New Delhi in the conversation streamed on social media platforms of Congress party.
Krishnan and his wife are infected with covid-19 and are currently in quarantine. Krishnan said India has 1.2 million registered allopathic doctors, around 3.7 million registered nurses in India. “When we are coming to the ratio, it is 1:1500 for doctors and 1.7:1000 nurses in India. The WHO recommended ratio is 1:1000 doctors and 3:1000 nurses when coming to the recommendations of the WHO. Running short in the scenario of human resources, but still we are fighting hard," he said.
He said the ₹1 crore compensation promised by the Delhi government to healthcare workers who have died battling covid-19 is yet to reach the kin of the deceased. Gandhi responded saying that he would take up the issue by writing to the concerned authorities.
India currently has 5,85,760 covid-19 cases and 1,74,08 people have succumbed to the highly infectious disease. While India has a shortage of nurses, the working community is overworked, underpaid and often undervalued, forcing thousands of them to migrate overseas every year in search of a better pay.
In India, nurses and doctors are losing lives during covid-19 pandemic due to various reasons ranging from lack of PPE, and are at high risk of contracting the infection. A widespread stigma against healthcare workers such as doctors and nurses has increased their risk. Despite government appeal, the social stigma persists.
Gandhi asked them a range of questions including how they deal with health risks, going back to families and the key lessons learnt in dealing with the pandemic.
Sherlylmol Puravady, a nurse working in United Kingdom, said “My husband is actually in high risk category and he was in shielding. So because I've been working with the covid patients, so I had to move out of my home leaving my husband and my children for six weeks," she said.
“Now I've gone back. Two weeks ago, I went back home and it's because the numbers are coming down. The number of patients in the hospital is coming down now and my management is so supportive of me," she added.
Gandhi’s conversation with the four nurses was the sixth in a series that he has held with experts to discuss the socio-economic fallout of the covid-19 pandemic.
His first guest in the series was former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan, then Nobel Prize winning economist Abhijit Banerjee, followed by public health experts Ashish Jha and Johan Giesecke. He also met Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto Limited. The fifth meeting waswith Nicholas Burns, a former US secretary of states.