Kerala likely to send team of doctors, nurses to Maharashtra

Kerala likely to send team of doctors, nurses to Maharashtra
Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja

Kerala government is likely to send a medical team to Mumbai to assist Maharashtra in its fight against COVID-19 by the end of this week. The team will comprise 50 doctors and 100 nurses. The Maharashtra government had sought the assistance of Kerala to plug the dearth in manpower in treating COVID-19 patients in the state.

The letter, sent by the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) to Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja on Saturday, had asked for recruitment of these doctors and nurses on a “temporary basis”. Maharashtra has roughly 1.5 lakh nurses in both the private and public sectors. The state has one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 patients in the country, with more than 50,000 cases. The state government had extended the lockdown sans relaxations till May 31 due to the spurt in cases.

“Our team is likely to head for Maharashtra by the end of this week,'' said an official with the Kerala health minister. “There is some reluctance among nurses as the payment is very less compared to what they get in Kerala. But we will be able to work it out,'' said the official.

Maharashtra had offered to pay Rs 30,000 for nurses. The doctors' team will include pulmonologists, anaesthetists, physicians and junior doctors.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope, last week, had said that Maharashtra may take lessons from Kerala which is doing quite well on the COVID-19 front compared to other states. "The structure of Maharashtra is quite different. However, some of the innovative initiatives undertaken by the Kerala health department will be discussed in Maharashtra," Tope had said after talking to Shailaja.

"Kerala's segregation policy, daily tests, measures taken to prevent infection in slums, the cooperation of private doctors, shortage of equipment, prevention in containment zones, use of plasma therapy were discussed," the state public health department had said in a press statement issued after the discussion between the two health ministers.

Dr Santosh Kumar, superintendent, Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, who had headed the medical team to Kasaragod district, which once had the highest number of cases in the country, is likely to head the team to Maharashtra.

“We are in the process of making a team of doctors and nurses working in the private sector. They can come back after the one-month period of the tenure or can stay back if they want,'' he told The WEEK. “But those who are coming back will have to go in quarantine for the stipulated time,'' he said.

“If Kerala is able to help Maharashtra in these hard times, it will be a good humanitarian gesture,'' Kumar said.

(The story first appeared in The Week)

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