Medical postgraduates: Omicron’s Here, Doctors Aren’t

News: Omicron is spreading faster than any virus in history. Latest reports from the UK show that patients with Omicron are 50-70% less likely to be admitted to hospital for treatment. 

However, observations in Europe and the US show that this milder virus could still put pressure on hospitals because of the speed of spread, overwhelming the medical infrastructure, especially the Medical postgraduates.

Read more: Omicron slow to infect lungs, says Hong Kong study
Why India should worry about Omicron?

Recently, the US recorded more than 2 lakh cases in a day, which stressed its critical care capacity. Since the US is a populous country, America’s nurses and doctors are tired and exhausted, and several US states have called on the National Guard to provide extra support. This is the trailer of a movie about to be released in India.

How did India’s health system evolve during the pandemic?

At the start of the pandemic, India started with no PPE, N95 masks, less than 30,000 ventilators and very few critical care beds. With active intervention by the government, in no time we became self-sufficient in every requirement to face the Covid battle.

India has 542 medical colleges, 64 standalone postgraduate institutions under the National Medical Commission and over 1,000 postgraduate institutions under the National Board of Examinations. They together manage approximately 6 lakh beds.  With the rigid regulations of the Medical Council of India, medical college hospitals have excellent infrastructure, adequate staff and expensive equipment.

But, India’s only weakness is the perpetual shortage of junior doctors in both public and private hospitals.

Read more: Brain drain in the health sector – Explained, Pointwise
Why does the shortage of Medical postgraduates important for the battle against Omicron?

When patients became very sick, they were invariably transferred to one of the medical college hospitals or postgraduate institutions for critical care. Sick Covid patients in the ICU are managed predominantly by young postgraduate students and nurses. Currently, over 2 lakh young doctors undergoing internship or postgraduate training programmes in various specialities.

Counselling of the NEET-PG 2021 batch has already been delayed by nearly eight months. Due to the delay, 1. Medical colleges and postgraduate institutions facing a shortfall of nearly 60,000 junior doctors, 2. Second and third-year postgraduate student doctors are being made to compensate for absent first-year postgraduate student doctors. Overworked and tired, resident doctors are protesting across the country.

What should be done to increase Medical postgraduates?

1. NEET-PG counselling should be conducted without any further delay by Medical Counselling Committee, 2. Ensure fresh resident doctors are posted in the ICU for a month to familiarise them with protocols and equipment.

If India tackled these challenges, India can emerge once again as able interdependent warriors in the battle against Covid waves.

Read more: On Omicron: Before the third wave

Source: This post is based on the article “Omicron’s Here, Doctors Aren’tpublished in TOI on 29th Dec 2021.

Print Friendly and PDF