India lost 624 doctors in the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the national capital reporting the highest deaths among doctors, the Indian Medical Association said in a statement today.
109 doctors died due to Covid in Delhi, the highest in the country, followed by Bihar with 96 deaths, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said.
Maharashtra, among the worst affected states by the gradual rise in cases in the last four months that later came to be known as the second wave, lost 23 doctors to Covid, according to the representative organisation of doctors.
In the second wave, 79 doctors died of Covid in Uttar Pradesh, 43 in Rajasthan, 39 in Jharkhand, 34 in Andhra Pradesh, 32 in Telangana and 31 in Gujarat, the IMA said.
Over 1 lakh people were killed and lakhs more were infected in the second wave. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers had to work overtime to meet the rush of patients. Many have done double shifts during this period.
The shortage of medical oxygen at the peak of the second wave led to many deaths in hospitals. Doctors and nurses are also among frontline professionals whose mental health took a turn for the worse during the second wave as they are often the last point of contact of dying Covid patients inside intensive care units (ICUs), experts say.
Low pay, long shift and shortage of staff were other issues often highlighted by doctors, especially in small towns and villages.
Although India's latest Covid surge has eased recently, some 3,000 people are still dying every day and the healthcare system remains under severe pressure.
Doctors said they had been traumatised by being forced to choose which patients to save first as they grappled with insufficient supplies of medicine and oxygen.
Ravikant Singh, the founder of a charity group helping to set up Covid field hospitals, said he struggled to sleep some nights. "It's been a life-changing situation for doctors," Mr Singh told news agency AFP. "The worst part was... we could not save many lives because of the lack of oxygen," he said.
With inputs from AFP