In the last two months more than 200 healthcare workers in Mumbai have been infected by the Covid-19 virus due to inadequate personal protection equipment. Both doctors and nurses have been working for weeks together without any break due to increasing number of infections. Yet, they are not provided proper food and water. There has been no improvement in their condition despite a number of representations.
An umbrella body of nursing associations has now written to the municipal commissioner and demanded better quarantine facilities for Covid-19 nursing staff and PPEs for nurses working in non-Covid-19 hospitals. Once a nurse tests positive then she or he has to struggle for hours for hospital admission. The facilities in quarantine centres are poor due to shortage of housekeeping staff.
Healthcare workers want the BMC to set up separate Covid care wards in hospitals and dedicated Covid health centres for health workers. They also want salaries of all health workers to be fully protected during the period of isolation and quarantine.
Hospitals dedicated for Covid patients in Mumbai are facing acute shortage of support staff which is putting lot of pressure on doctors. The resident doctor of one of the largest hospitals of Mumbai corporation reported, “For days now, we don’t have nurses, class IV workers and servants to help patients. None of the patients have relatives with them, none of them have any means to go to the washroom, none of them have means to feed (themselves).”
The neglect of government and corporation hospital over the years is affecting both patients and health workers in Mumbai. These hospitals have been starved of funds year after year. Hundreds of vacancies have not been filled. No new hospital has been built in the last twenty years by the state government or corporation while more than half a dozen large private hospitals have come up with the support of the government. However, the entire load of the Covid patients is being handled by the government hospitals. The pandemic crisis has shown that privatized healthcare cannot and is not interested in dealing with any public health crisis.