Healthcare workers conduct check ups for migrant workers who returned to their village in Sehore district, Madhya Pradesh

India is at a critical stage in its fight against Covid-19. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed thousands of lives, shaken the governments and thrashed markets. It has, however, failed to crush indomitable sprits of the corona warriors – frontline worker’s; doctors, paramedics, nurses, health workers and police personnel. They continue to work tirelessly to combat the disease, as this is a war India can’t afford to lose.

Many fear that the country’s healthcare system may not be able to cope with a massive outbreak. The country only has 0.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people, one of the lowest ratios in the world, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  India is pinning its hope of containing the outbreak on social distancing and a complete lockdown. And the success is down to the efforts of these unknown but selfless workers.

Emergency room doctors drenched in sweat and critical care nurses scrambling for protective equipment have quickly come to personify the heroism and tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, police are working round the clock to support India’s fight against the novel coronavirus. And, they’re doing so while making immense sacrifices on the personal front. The medical providers on the frontline are the people, who in most cases can’t go home. They are risking their own lives and that of their families, to make sure that our families are safe. The risk factor has been dangerously high due to the absence of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Hippocratic Oath is silent on a directive that doctors sacrifice their own lives in the practice of medicine. In truth, every war, every human conflict, every epidemic and pandemic kills doctors. Coronavirus is now killing healthy doctors and nurses, too. Also, deserving praise are those whose efforts make up the entire infrastructure of a functioning society — such as grocery store and pharmacy staff, utility workers and other emergency personnel.

Just days ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked citizens to come out on their balconies and literally applaud the courage and sacrifice of these frontline professionals, but there is a lot of dissonance between such elaborate gestures and the truth. Across the country, doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers are being attacked. Medical professionals and frontline workers are being stigmatised as suspected carriers of the novel coronavirus, or accused of flouting  the lockdown. They are being threatened, many of them evicted from rented houses over fear of infection. The gross injustice meted out to doctors does not stop at these incidents alone. A day after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, a Telangana-based doctor was stopped and assaulted by the police on her way to work. A group of doctors who went to screen patients in a locality in Indore faced a stone-pelting mob, suffering several injuries.

One can’t help but wonder — is this the same country that has for decades considered engineering and medicine the only worthy professions? Health workers are not the only ones facing the brunt of the frightened population, airport workers involved in moving essential supplies have also faced attacks as have delivery workers transporting medicines and groceries. Some e-commerce giants have even halted deliveries partly due to the harassment of staff.

OneStage has stood by these corona warriors. In response to COVID-19 outbreak in India, the organisation provided over 1 lakh N-95 masks to Health Departments of Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. The organisation in association with its partner NGO, Samarthan, also supported healthcare workers in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh to conduct thorough check-ups of migrant workers who returned to their villages from urban areas. Through its multiple interventions, OneStage is also supporting Healthcare professionals in carrying out awareness and behavioural change campaign, support isolation centres, provide preventive kits and distributed cooked food to those in need.Learn more about OneStage’s interventions on the organisation’s website.

These unsung heroes are on the forefront today because of their sense of responsibility, compassion and deep expertise. Discriminating these heroes is absolutely uncalled. At this time, it’s crucial that people providing essentially services, especially those battling the pandemic on the front lines, receive our support rather than our suspicion.


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