Frontline health workers are getting exhausted as COVID19 cases soar in the small state of Meghalaya. Covid19 related deaths which were far between in the past months have recently started spiking with at least a death a day for the last six days adding to the pressure of the situation. As the days pass, there does not seem to be any chance that the virus is abating. Instead the opposite seems to be true. But the short staffed health institutions cannot afford to rotate their workers to give them the required rest as they are expected to be on call round the clock all across the state.
Going by the data and the graph that the Covid19 virus cases are taking, it certainly looks like the worst is yet to come. Is the state prepared for that? The health workers force is tiny compared to other states. Even at the best of times the shortage of doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and other workers has been an issue. At this time of pandemic the situation calls for herculean efforts from the health department to ensure that they are not overwhelmed by the flood of cases. Fortunately most of the symptomatic cases are within the capital city where there is a semblance of health infrastructure. Outside of this circle, any rise in cases is likely to pose a gigantic challenge to provide the people care and succor required. The shortage of health personnel and the lack of adequate infrastructure are major hurdles which have to be overcome right away if the state is to be prepared for the coming storm.
Never have doctors, nurses and other health workers been called upon to face such a challenge. It is the oath which they have taken that keeps them at the battlefront and it is a measure of their commitment that till date one has not heard of even a single case of a doctor or nurse throwing up their hands in despair and walking away from the task at hand. Despite many constraints at work, which might range from lack of PPE to fear of getting infected to fear of unknowingly, infecting their family members to whom they have to return every day. According to the protocols for the health workers, they are allowed to return to their homes and families. This had become a bone of contention with the workers demanding rooms away from home from the management as they feared taking the virus home. Their fears and requirements have to be taken into consideration while the government will have to think ahead to create facilities to help the frontline health workers face not only the impact of physical exhaustion but also the psychological fatigue.
It is also to be noted that the ASHA and the Aganwadi workers are the bedrock of the health infrastructure and need to be fully included in any attempts to improve the facilities for the frontline health workers.