Indian doctors, trained abroad, forced to stand by as COVID sweeps nation
From Kannaki Deka
GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) - Around 90,000 Indian doctors with medical degrees from Russia, China and Ukraine are calling on the government to use them in the fight against COVID-19 instead of standing idle and waiting for local licenses.
Nowhere in the world has the pandemic been more severely affected than in India, as a new variant of the virus triggered a surge in infections that rose to more than 400,000 daily, causing more than 4,000 deaths per day and overwhelming the healthcare system.
Graduates from foreign medical schools such as Bangladesh, Philippines, Nepal, and Kyrgyzstan must pass local exams in India before they can practice.
Many have either passed the exams and are waiting for their licenses to be issued, while others are due to come for the test next month.
"We do not require foreign graduates to perform operations, but they must be allowed to work as frontline workers at such a critical point," said Najeerul Ameen, president of the All India Foreign Medical Graduates Association.
Health experts warn that India will soon face a shortage of medical staff in intensive care units as the second wave takes its toll.
"In the next few weeks, patients in intensive care units (intensive care units) will die because there may not be nurses and doctors to take care of them. This will happen," said Dr. Devi Shetty, a celebrity cardiologist, at a recent conference.
Last week, overworked nurses and paramedics at government hospitals in western Gujarat state went on strike to demand better wages and insurance coverage.
Ameen said thousands of the overseas medical graduates had been idle even though they would like to work. The World Health Organization recognizes their degrees.
National Board of Examination (NBE) officials said the exams were compulsory because they were not trained in India.
"They are not used to Indian health problems at all," said Pawanindra Lal, executive director of the NBE.
The Ministry of Health did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
(Additional reporting and writing by Rupam Jain, editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Nick Macfie)
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