World Health Day 2020: Support Nurses and Midwives

On the evening of March 27, Chhaya Jagtap, a nurse at Pune’s Naidu hospital, was both surprised and excited after she received a call and the person on the other side said, “The PM wants to speak with you.” The next moment she heard the powerful voice of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeting her and praising the efforts of the entire hospital staff in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The audio conversation is now widely shared on social media.

At a time when the disease has infected over a million people, taken thousands lives and forced the entire population to stay indoors, the health professionals and nurses are battling the highly contagious virus at the forefront.

Today, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the World Health Day, the theme is dedicated to their efforts and sacrifices – ‘Support Nurses and Midwives’.

How medical professionals, including nurses and midwives, are keeping us safe?

Our health professionals – doctors, nurses, paramedics, first responders and others – are working long hours day in, day out to treat the COVID-19 patients. Nurses are the first medical staff to treat patients and are constantly exposed to the virus. Even though they put their health at risk every single day, they just need one commitment from us – to stay home.

As the virologists and scientists around the world are frantically searching for a vaccine, the frontline health workers are doing whatever it takes to save lives. In the process, some even got exposed to the virus and contracted the disease. In Mumbai’s Wockhardt Hospital has as many as 26 nurses and 3 doctors have tested positive.

But despite all that they carry on with their work and helped about 2,70,000 people recover from the disease all over the world. In India, about 328 people, including two from Odisha, have recovered so far.

In many states such as Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, auxiliary nurses and midwives (ANMs) and ASHA workers are going door to door to collect information on overseas travel history of people.

The medical fraternity in Odisha has also risen to the occasion. Highlighting the government efforts, Dr. Prayas Ray, Asst Professor Dentistry from SCB Medical College and Hospital said, “The nurses and all medical staff are extremely proactive and self-motivated in preparing for the fight against COVID-19. With their leaves cancelled, they are aware of the situation and are prepared to work beyond their shift hours till things are under control.”

Dr Ray cited the examples of nurses Ms. Rebati Das, Ms. Sabita Das, and Ms. Anjali Dhal and said there are many like them who are doing their job efficiently and persistently despite the hazards associated with it.

What the government is doing for frontline health workers?

Both the central government and several state governments have taken a slew of measures for frontline workers, including nurses and midwives. They are:

Insurance: Indian government has announced Rs 50 lakh medical insurance cover per person for healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and sanitation workers who are working in the frontline. The Delhi government has announced Rs 1 crore for frontline workers.

Salary in advance: Odisha government announced four months’ advance salary for doctors, nurses and frontline workers.

Their services included under ESMA: The Andhra Pradesh government has included the services of doctors, nurses and sanitation workers under Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1971.

Honouring and thanksgiving campaigns for frontline workers: On numerous occasions, PM Modi has urged citizens to honour the efforts and dedication of the frontline health workers and people have complied with all their hearts. He has also urged to organize thanksgiving campaigns for doctors, nurses, paramedics and sanitation workers.

How the nurses are taking care of themselves?

Wearing masks and PPEs: Nurses are provided with masks and personal protective equipment to minimize their exposure to the virus.

Using sanitizers: Dr Ray stated that the nurses and other frontline workers are extremely particular when it comes to hand hygiene. They are using sanitizers and keeping their hands clean several times a day.

Eating right: A diet rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals helps them to fuel for a gruelling day ahead.

Regular exercise: Light workout such as aerobics, stretching, and breathing exercises improve their blood circulation, keep the respiratory system active and healthy and give them strength.

Yoga: They destress by doing yoga, pranayama and meditation. This ancient Indian practice helps them in boosting their immunity, uplifting their mental state, and helping them work for longer hours.

How can we help them?

As they are on the frontline serving the public and exposing themselves to the virus to keep all of us safe, the least we can do is to lessen their burden. We can help them by:

Staying indoors: The best way we can help all the frontline workers is by staying indoors. They are on the frontline with the mission to save as many lives as possible, by staying indoors we can make things a lot easier for them.

Maintaining hand hygiene: Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after touching any surface, coming from outside or whenever we can. We can also use a hand sanitizer with more than 60 per cent alcohol to clean our hands if water is not available.

Practicing social distancing: Maintaining social distance during this time is the key to break the chain of the virus transmission and keep our loved ones safe.

Wearing masks and gloves: When going outdoors is inevitable in case of some emergencies, wearing masks and gloves is a must.

Proper disposal of masks and disinfecting clothes: After coming from outside, the mask needs to be disposed of in a proper way. Clothes need to be put in a polythene bag and must be kept in the sun for at least six hours and then washed with detergents and disinfectants.

Following government orders: While they fight the virus on a war footing, both the central and state government are on their toes to ensure that the citizens remain safe and protected. Apart from updating about the figures, they are also issuing advisories and orders in public interest. We all would be benefited by adhering to them.

In her conversation with the PM, Ms. Jagtap said though she is concerned about her family, she focuses all her energy and attention to serve patients and assure them in difficult times. With this dedication, every nurse and medical staff is working to drive the disease out and make the country win.

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