The memory of my graduation from medical college is still fresh in my mind- an overwhelming feeling of purpose entrusted to my hands resonated with my classmates who were soon to be my colleagues. The oath we took together as a newly groomed fraternity made us excited to be in the line of duty on the battlefield that is healthcare. We’ve had a few funny escapades and incidents- family members suddenly asking for advice, some of them who we had never met or known had existed and been asked for numerous treats once we started working although we were broke, as against the common assumption that we definitely earn too much.
Fast forward to a day in my life in the ER- receiving patients with acute problems, triaging the cases, barely having time to eat and prancing about on my toes to make sure every patient is being optimally attended to- that was the regular drill.
Humans have always had previous pandemics and epidemics to learn from and most importantly adapt, so newer medicines and vaccines can be synthesized. Even with the novel coronavirus, each one of us doctors is aware of the seriousness of the ongoing situation, and we are all unanimously involved in being of help- in any way possible.
The coronavirus pandemic in India is showing its true colours as every day passes- the count is witnessing a steep climb, and the casualties may rise subsequently. We are a country with a dense population, with a significant percentage of poverty, unemployment, inadequate healthcare/ICU infrastructure and a staggering 1:1800 doctor-patient ratio amongst other already existing challenges. A 21-day lockdown is already in order, a decision that is very welcome in order to contain the spread of the virus. Social distancing is the only option, I repeat, the only option to arrest the transmission cycle of the virus. It is the only way we can flatten the disease curve together- which means the less, manageable burden on the healthcare sector and adequate attention and care to infected patients.
Healthcare professionals are working 24*7, toiling endlessly in this close combat with the epidemic despite all the negativity surrounding it. If not at the hospital, doctors are making themselves available online on AI-powered platforms like MFine for consultations via audio and video calls for disseminating the panic around COVID-19 and any minor ailments- to prevent untoward visits to a hospital and helping patients, especially having coexisting conditions, stay at home. The news of doctors and nurses losing their own lives to the infection gives me a surreal feeling of how selfless and noble this profession really is, and I take pride in being of service in a situation like this.
On 22 March, the nation got out to balconies and windows to clap for us as well as our colleagues- nurses, paramedical staff as well as all those who were putting their lives at risk in order to keep a citizen’s life safe. As much as I am thankful for the appreciation, reports of doctors being spit on, assaulted and evicted from their houses are extremely saddening- it is important that we are given the respect and compassion that we deserve. I am also appalled by some misconceived ideas circulated on Whatsapp forwards and social media about the virus which is doing more harm than good. However, doctors are not superheroes and the battle cannot be fought by us alone. It is fundamental in keeping us motivated to continue fighting.
You can help us by not letting the coronavirus pandemic take such an unimaginable and unwelcome toll on our lives- be kind, and do not be misinformed. You, yes you. You need to take an oath to stay at home, practice social distancing, be kind to your neighbours, elders and the poorer section of the society. You need to take an oath as a citizen who will cooperate, follow guidelines, fact-check all news, display immense participation in this war by staying at home. You need to promise that you will not hoard basic essential amenities. It is alright if you have, but now is the time to step up and donate additional supplies to those in need.
Help us fight this pandemic. Stay at home. Stock up on compassion, kindness and common sense. You are not alone. You can do this. If you are experiencing symptoms like cough, fever, sore throat or breathing difficulties, it is advised that you consult a doctor as soon as possible. Get your symptoms assessed by top doctors on your phone on the MFine app.
The coronavirus pandemic is another challenging situation for the world- yet as all phases do, this too shall pass.