The present covid-19 pandemic is arguably the most devastating public health crises India has ever seen, and systemic failures are apparent all around. Jammu and Kashmir is no exception. The pandemic has put entire health systems under immense pressure and stretched it to capacity, almost to the breaking point. As such, responding to this public health emergency and successfully minimizing its impact requires every health resource to be leveraged. Amid this crisis, the role of every “covid warrior” has been immense. Last year, they even faced acts of violence and as a consequence severely hindered the response. Some even faced stigma as they were dubbed as vectors of contagion. Some have been assaulted. Others were denied even transport while commuting to work. At times, their entire families faced eviction, not only from rented accommodations but even from their homes. Since then, things have changed for the better as far as attacks are concerned. However, it is not the case that the covid warriors are altogether safe. They continue to put their life on the line. The pestilence can be contracted by them as much as any ordinary individual. It is thus imperative that the government ensures better protection along with availability of all that they need to ward off against the virus. Failure to protect them in this rapidly changing context exposes health systems to critical gaps in services when they are most needed, and can have a long-lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of populations. From doctors, nurses, lab technicians, drivers, sweepers and attendants, who have been at the forefront of the battle against the coronavirus disease, to members from different organs of the administration and departments need to be protected and their role appreciated.
Recognizing it, the government has already announced incentives of Rs 10,000 p.m. for Resident doctors, PGs and Medical Officers; Rs 7,000 p.m. for Nursing and Paramedical staff, and Rs 5,000 p.m. for drivers, sweepers and attendants.
The administration also extended till December 31 the services of all doctors who are due to retire on or before November 30. Besides, the tenure of doctors on tenure posts such as residents, registrars etc has been extended till 31st December wherever these tenures are ending earlier. These steps are in the right direction and rather need to be augmented. While incentives will surely be a morale booster, the government has also rightly valued the experience of the medical professionals to effectively deal with the evolving Covid situation.