With the first and most important step of the lockdown being implemented in India, the nation now needs to gear up for the next step, which is to enable the country to effectively deal with coronavirus positive patients, and prevent further spread of the viral disease.
Dr. Devi Shetty, cardiac surgeon, and chairman-founder, Narayana Health, in a signed article in the Times of India on Thursday (March 26), said India will be needing all-hands-on-deck to win the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
Putting the Medical Council of India (MCI), the apex body controlling medical education in India on the centre stage, Dr. Shetty said the key to winning this fight against COVID-19 lies with the MCI and its introducing some regulatory changes.
He said since India is capable of providing enough beds and has large government hospitals and medical college hospitals, all that the country now needs are young doctors, nurses and paramedics to work on ground zero.
Dr Shetty proposed that over 50,000 specialist doctors who are waiting to appear for their final exam in vital specialties like anesthesiology, pulmonology, cardiology, radiology, etc, after spending three to six years in specialties under MCI or National Board of Examinations, can be awarded ‘Board eligible’ degrees. The degree will enable them to practice without appearing for the final exam.
He said the ban on the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which had over 40,000 specialists, should also be lifted.
Removing the ban from fellowships offered by Society for Emergency Medicine India and Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, and on 2,000 specialists with a diploma in community cardiology from IGNOU, would also help, he opined.
Moreover, involving young doctors, who are trained in Russia and China, and are waiting to clear MCI’s eligibility test, by providing them temporary licenses to work in hospitals under senior doctors would also help, he said. Among other ideas he proposed were legalisation of telemedicine, and online consultation and prescription.
By taking the above measures, Dr Shetty said, India will be shifting the battleground from houses and streets to hospitals and ICUs, where the nation will be better equipped to fight the virus.
Since the coronavirus is more deadly for people aged over 60 as compared to younger people, having young doctors, nurses, and paramedics on ground zero will certainly help to protect the nation, the doctor emphasized.