Maharashtra asks Kerala for trained medical personnel

Published : May 26, 2020 20:54 IST

Health care workers take swab sample for COVID-19 test during a health check up drive at the Transit Camp, Dharavi, on May 26. Photo: Vijay Bate

This has been a long time coming but Maharashtra has finally asked Kerala for medical assistance in the fight against COVID-19. In a letter dated May 23, Dr T.P. Lahane, Director of the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, wrote to Kerala’s Health and Social Welfare Minister K.K. Shailaja asking for 50 trained specialist doctors and 100 nurses to be sent to Maharashtra. The State has about 1.5 lakh nurses in the public and private sectors, but this has proved to be woefully inadequate as the number of patients rise. The staff from Kerala are expected to be posted in Mumbai and Pune which continue to be hotspots for the virus. Lahane, who is also the Nodal Officer, COVID-19, said, “It is expected that the number of COVID-19 patients is likely to increase in Mumbai and Pune districts in near future.”

The letter asks for the recruitment of this trained staff on a “purely temporary basis”. The letter promises to pay MBBS doctors Rs.80,000 a month and MD/MS specialist doctors “which includes physicians, intensivists, etc.” Rs.2 lakh a month. Trained nursing staff will get Rs.30,000 a month. The letter goes on to say the State government shall also provide accommodation and meals for the doctors and nurses as well as medicine and personal protective equipment.

Maharashtra has successfully approached Doctors Without Borders with a similar request. Lahane said he spoke to Dr Santosh Kumar, vice president, South Asia, of the international organisation who had responded positively to the request for medical personnel. Dr Santosh Kumar is also Deputy Superintendent of the Government Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram and he led a 26-member medical expert team to bring Kerala’s Kasargod district out of the red zone.

Given the trajectory of the positive cases in the State the requests are long overdue. Lahane admitted that medics were working “at their fullest capacity”. He outlined the State’s response plan saying the State had decided to set up a 600-bed COVID Health Care Centre at Mahalakshmi Race Course in Mumbai which also includes a 125-bed ICU.

Lahane’s letter came a few days after State Health Minister Rajesh Tope spoke to his Kerala counterpart discussing that State’s successful management of the pandemic.

As of May 24, Maharashtra, had 47,190 positive cases and 1,635 deaths. Of these figures, Mumbai reported 28,817 cases and 949 deaths.

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