Doctors belonging to the Indian Medical Association (Goa chapter) on Thursday highlighted problems they have been facing during the ongoing COVID crisis including staff shortage, financial crunch and the stigma associated with the disease.
Doctors engaged in general practice, orthopaedics, paediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics, surgeons and pathologists rallied together to speak out their grievances. Speaking to media persons in Margao, IMA-Goa president Dr Samuel S said that doctors have been under stress, and have been stigmatised.
“On a daily basis, we get around 80 to 100 patients; 60 to 80 per cent of whom have cold and flu-like symptoms. As doctors we have to treat them, although there is 12 per cent chance of getting infection. Every doctor is under stress and we are trying our best to reduce contact time with the patient. We are also facing social stigma,” he said.
A doctor practising at Reis Magos narrated a recent incident wherein he had treated a patient who eventually tested positive for COVID-19. The doctor and his staffers were subsequently tested for the pandemic, and test results came negative.
However, they were stigmatised in their neighbourhoods; some were even asked to vacate their homes. Margao-based laparoscopic surgeon Dr Sujoy Das also spoke about the problems he faced at the Aster Hospital, Margao.
“Twenty-five per cent of the staff at the hospital are not reporting to the duty because of the stigma associated with COVID, although we inform their family members and even administer prophylaxis medication. Our cost of working has also increased since we require PPE for all our staff, which costs us between Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000,” Dr Das explained.
City-based pathologist Dr Babita Angle also spoke about the problems faced by pathology labs.
“We cannot say no to patients coming for blood tests… we have to take precautions. Antibody test can be used as a screening test for COVID but it should be made universal so that private labs can start testing…,” she explained.
Dr Angle also added that while herd immunity will take a long time to attain it is important for the state government to begin research on COVID patients, who have recovered from the disease.
Oncologist Dr Shekar Salkar said, “Blaming a doctor saying it was his negligence is not right. There occurs an error of judgment, and that happens. But one must understand that we are also working under stressful conditions and we cannot say no to patients. At Manipal Hospital, since the COVID crisis broke out, we have had 400 operations including blood marrow transplants with the necessary precautions. There are many patients (non-COVID patients) who require medical attention.”