Meghalaya: Health workers struggle to keep up with COVID pressure 

So far, the cumulative tally of active cases stands at 3726, of which 2121 are in East Khasi Hills alone and 502 in the Ri-Bhoi district. 

By Ibankyntiew Mawrie


With Meghalaya registering the highest single-day spike of 591 fresh COVID cases on Thursday, the load on the health care system is set to increase.  

So far, the cumulative tally of active cases stands at 3726, of which 2121 are in East Khasi Hills alone and 502 in the Ri-Bhoi district. 

The state reported 18 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total toll to 268, with 228 new recoveries. The total number of recovered patients, combining stats of the first wave, stands at 17582. 

With this increase, the health care system is staring at a shortage of manpower. Adding to this is the additional burden on the already-overstrained health professionals and workers in the state. 

"Due to re-distribution of doctors to COVID-19 areas, we are facing a staff crunch. For doctors staying outside campus, without private vehicles, commuting is a problem. Also, since many rely on eateries near the hospital, the lockdown is a problem," said Dr Calleb Harris from NEIGRIHMS. 

With the state witnessing low turnouts for vaccination, many people are believing in misinformation with regards to the vaccine. For many health workers, one of the main hurdles is to make people understand that the effects of the pandemic are grave and protection is therefore necessary.

“COVID is real! This is not just the responsibility of the frontline workers. The people should also be equally responsible by taking care of themselves. If everyone is cautious, it will lighten our burden," said a health worker from NEIGRIHMS. 

Apart from all the stress that health workers are exposed to daily due to the handling of COVID cases, currently they are also subjected to other pressures, including mental and emotional stress.

At the same time, many of them are getting stigmatised.

 “Health care workers living as tenants are being stigmatised," a staff from Woodland Hospital said. 

Many medical professionals have also raised concerns over the lack of financial and emotional support from the government. 

Last year during the COVID lockdown, doctors and nurses working in COVID wards were provided quarantine accommodation in hotels and guest houses. However this year, no such arrangements were made by the state government. 

"Private hospitals have to make their own arrangements for providing quarantine accommodation for their heath staff working with COVID patients. But with the number of patients admitted in private hospitals doubling this time, the number of staff required to care for them has also doubled," said Dr Synrang B. Warjri from Nazareth Hospital. 

Most private hospitals do not have the capacity to provide accommodation for all workers.

"The health staff providing the much-required care for COVID patients, and risking their own safety, now have nowhere to quarantine themselves. They are left to manage for themselves. Most of them don't dare to go back home and risk the lives of their family," Dr Warjri said. 

It was reported last year that at the peak of the first wave, Nazareth Hospital had a maximum of 30 patients. However, this time around the number of patients has reached 70. 

A similar scenario also exists in Supercare Hospital and Bethany Hospital. 

"The number of COVID patients at government hospitals are much lower than that at private hospitals. The government needs to help out these hospitals which are bearing more than half the load of COVID patients," Dr Warjri said.

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