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India is experiencing an overwhelming second wave of COVID-19, with over 19 million reported cases and over 219,000 deaths. In the past week alone, 350,000 new infections are being reported every day on average. It’s nothing short of heart-breaking to see the scenes at cremation grounds, hear the cries for oxygen supplies, medicines, and hospital beds that are plastered on our television screens.
Health care facilities are at full capacity, and the health workforce is going above and beyond their calling. They are stretched physically, mentally, and emotionally. Many have succumbed to the virus (744 by the first week of February, according to the Indian Medical Association) and the morale in the medical community is low.
In an additional blow, the virus is now moving to smaller towns and rural India where health facilities are less equipped, and populations have limited access to doctors. In these parts, 30% of India’s doctors support 70% of the population.
It is frightening to see how things have escalated over the last few days and as Indian medical graduates based in Australia, many of us have felt disheartened, and are now driven to do something to help. Many have been supporting family and friends in India by providing medical advice over phone or video calls.
India needs more such initiatives to provide standardised telehealth services to patients requiring home-based care to take away the pressure from hospitals. We also need to support health professionals in India – especially the young graduates who need guidance and mentoring.
With such initiatives slowly gaining momentum in the UK, USA, and Canada, Indian medical graduates in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria are joining hands to provide their collective support to colleagues in India. The aim of these groups is to
- support individuals requiring home-based care
- support the health workforce through peer-peer clinical support and build the morale of young health professionals and recent graduates
We believe that providing peer to peer support might be of immense value to boost their morale as well as support them in their clinical duties.
We plan to seek permissions, provide standardised training, and guidelines/protocols for home-based management without prescriptions. Individual phone numbers will not be sent out and we will not deal with linking people to resources such as oxygen and medicine. We will link in with the available tele-health platforms in India.
If any Indian Medical Graduate in Australia is interested to volunteer their time and support this initiative, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rohina Joshi is an IMG from CMC Ludhiana and completed her Masters in Public Health from Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute, Kerala and PhD from University of Sydney. Rohina is the Head of the Global Health Workforce at The George Institute for Global Health and Scientia Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales. She is a Senior Manager at The George Institute, India
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