IMA to launch counselling helpline for doctor, nurses

The IMA, a national voluntary organisation of doctors of the modern scientific system of medicine, has about 350,000 out of the approximately million doctors in the country as part of the organisation.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has recruited psychiatrists and psychological counsellors to help doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals fight the mounting stress due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The IMA is set to launch a 24/7 counselling helpline for doctors in the next few days. Several doctors and healthcare workers in the country are already infected and quarantined, and reports of devastation in Europe and the United States are leading to mounting stress in the healthcare community, said officials.

“We have recruited 16 psychiatrists and psychologists dedicated to doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals,” said Dr RV Asokan, secretary general, IMA. “The amount of stress the doctors undergo is tremendous.”


The IMA, a national voluntary organisation of doctors of the modern scientific system of medicine, has about 350,000 out of the approximately million doctors in the country as part of the organisation.

“We are doing our bit to build and boost the morale of the healthcare staff, but at the end of the day there is worry because their families are also back home,” said Dr Rajan Sharma, National President, IMA. “How can you make an army fight a battle when there are fears and threats, and you are not even battle-ready?” he said, pointing to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals. “I hope the bottlenecks are removed and urgent transport of these precious medical commodities reach the hotspots," he added.

Dr Samir Parikh, director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at Fortis Healthcare, said: “Healthcare practitioners are overworked in these difficult times. In an acute crisis like this, work takes over for 24/7. Doctors and frontline health practitioners have had no time for themselves ever since the Covid-19 outbreak. We will definitely have more cases of anxiety and physically and mentally fatigued doctors after a few weeks.”
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Separately, the IMA secretary general also said that there are nearly 40,000 resident doctors (postgraduates) who just graduated on March 31 and are among the frontline workers. “We have got an extension of three months for them with salary,” he said. “Their tenure has been extended. Their exams cannot be held now.”

In addition to the frontline doctors in the 600 medical colleges, there are several layers of private sector as well as district hospitals and more than 100,000 government doctors. “No country is better equipped than us in dealing with the pandemic,” said Asokan. “We have worked on epidemics earlier and already have a system in place in public health.”
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