Medical workforce being stretched to the limit in Dimapur

‘7-day containment measure as good as no lockdown’

Morung Express News
Dimapur | May 3

Screening of travellers/returnees entering Nagaland by road and rail started today in Dimapur. According to a district Health official, testing of inbound passengers using Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits began at 8:00 am at the Dimapur railway station at the two designated entry points by road— New Field and Dillai inter-state check-posts. 

This may come as a bit of reassuring news to the public as detection of COVID-19 cases among travelers has become increasingly frequent, while mounting detection of positive traced contacts point to community spread though not officially admitted. 

As for the medical personnel stationed in the field, it implies extended work hours under great stress. 

A lack of resources and workforce was apparent as according to the official, the medical workforce in Dimapur has been stretched to the limit with hardly any additional support from the government relative to the workload. 

 “We are using nearly everybody posted under the office of the Chief Medical Officer. We are stretched to the limit,” commented the official on condition of anonymity. 

 “We are even calling out personnel stationed in the rural health facilities for surveillance duties. If only the government would give us (district) one medical staff (a doctor, a nurse or lab technician) each from the other less affected districts, it would atleast lessen the workload to some extent,” he added.  

On top of that, he said that the district surveillance staff hardly gets sufficient RAT kits as opposed to the high detection rate. “Our government is so broke. It is now even begging the CII for aid. We are given 200-300 test kits at a time. It is hardly enough for 2-3 days.”

Over and above the surveillance duty, there is the added job of compiling data daily, which further involves more hours. 
There is also the danger of contracting the virus in the line of work and taking it home. “After our shift we have to go back home. There is no quarantine facility for the staff,” he disclosed.  

The official was also critical of the latest measure of the government declaring Dimapur and Kohima as “containment zones” for 7 days. According to him, it would be as good as no lockdown at all. “The people at the top do not know the ground reality. It should be atleast 14 days of lockdown. This would lessen the load on the COVID Hospital as it would give ample time for the existing positive cases to recover freeing up beds.” 

As per another official source, the District Surveillance Team is composed 19 doctors and 22 support staff. This, the official asserted, is not enough and should rather be doubled to atleast provide some breathing space to the personnel.

“We are required to respond at any hour. There is no break. In addition, we also have to attend to the normal duties at our designated health centres,” she said. According to her, there is a higher tendency of making mistakes when people work under stress, which could cost dear in a pandemic situation. Echoing the other official’s view, she added that the government should deploy medical personnel from the other districts to Dimapur to atleast tide over the present situation. 

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