Sunday, 2 October, 2022
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Nurse Lini’s death shows doctors are Gods but nurses mere mortals in India

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The nurse is not just a victim of the Nipah virus, but also a horrifying loophole in India’s already crumbling medical system.

The Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode, Kerala, for many, is a test of India’s capacity to respond to public health emergencies. While the state’s medical fraternity acted with incredible efficiency after it learnt what it was dealing with, certain loopholes in the system continue to put caregivers like Lini Puthussery at mortal risk during disease outbreaks.

Nurses like Lini are the frontline soldiers during a public health emergency, but they aren’t adequately prepared and equipped to confront communicable diseases without contracting them.

But sadly, all that the internet cares about today is the letter Lini wrote to her husband. Everyone is shaking their heads in sadness. “What a great thing Lini did, service before self,” most people are saying.

What they have all conveniently missed is a closer look at the photographs coming out of the infected areas. While most doctors are in full-body suits, the nurses and support staff have to make do with just masks and the hope that nothing untoward happens to them.

Most of India’s nurses work in private hospitals, which are largely unregulated and do not follow the norm of having nurse-patient ratios of one to every four. Nurses work nine- to 14-hour days, often doing double shifts.

The conditions they live in are startling, to say the least. Not only are nurses in India overworked and underpaid, in most public as well as private hospitals, they are often overlooked when it comes to safety procedures and practices.

Nurses are at the most grievous risk in the event of an epidemic, and as first responders, they need adequate precautions in place. Why must nurses not have protective gear too?

A study on the global burden of disease published in May in The Lancet showed that India had fallen behind Sri Lanka and Bangladesh after failing to achieve healthcare goals. This was just another statistic to many for a long time. However, when Lini Puthussery succumbed to the Nipah virus, this statistic became a harsh reality.

Time and again, India’s public healthcare system has come under the scanner. In the past decade, we’ve increased our spending in defence, education, town-planning, infrastructure and much more in a bid to make India the world’s envy. We have also aimed at being the destination for medical tourism. However, we have failed to pay attention to the pivot of our public health system – the brave, caregiving sister.

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  1. I want to know how much had kerala government spent for providing safe masks, aprons for all health care professionals? Bloody beggars.. they cant provide safe masks and aprons for all care takers and health care professionals but ready to give lakhs and fame only after they lose their precious life treating such patients.. ungrateful profession is this.. Where are your Actors – Amir Khan, Vijay, media who were interested and knowledgeable in medical field run away.. why didnt they provide masks and aprons for health care professionals fighting against deadly disease.. cowards… making fool of health professionals and putting their lives under risk..

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