Depression is the biggest irony of today’s frantic life. India is already grappling with myriad COVID19 cases and a shattered economy, another catastrophe is knocking at the door. Those frontline warriors to whom we have paid tribute during the lockdown for saving common lives from an uncommon pandemic are now finding themselves down in the dumps. Studies suggest that suicide rates among doctors are higher than in the general population. The 2019 World Health Statistics says there are 10.6 suicides per one lakh people every year, although in India there are 16.3. The AIIMS, New Delhi has witnessed 6 suicides including that of three doctors in the past two months. Isn’t it a public health crisis? Who will save the saviors? Although many doctors have taken their lives even in the pre-COVID phase the recent outpouring of suicidal cases has traumatized the entire nation. It has evoked a big question that whether the COVID19 has increased the suicide rate or is it the inefficiency of the healthcare system.
Alarming Statistics- Is COVID19 exacerbating the situation?
A doctor is not superhuman; he is also a human being who needs proper care to maintain physical and mental wellbeing in tough times. According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, about 4 doctors per 10,000 people commit suicide every year.
And in India, there is one government doctor for every 10,189 people or a shortfall of 600,000 doctors as per the study of Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) in the US. Other findings from the survey done by the All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS) during the COVID-19 pandemic say 15% of the doctors had severe symptoms of depression, 6% had suicidal thoughts one-two times a week.
Searching for the cause:
The concerns regarding PPE kit availability and quality, long working hours, unhygienic quarantine facilities, separation from families, the idiocy of landlords, and several incidents of public outrage against doctors are some conceivable causes for the mental illness among doctors. However conventional reasons such as caste-based discrimination in medical school, the pressure of performing the best, and barriers in seeking mental health are still pertinent to the situation.
In this time of COVID havoc when people need doctors more than anyone, this suicide plague can disturb the equilibrium of the society. Furthermore, a lack of doctors is inversely proportional to the medical cost. Currently, 65% of health expenditure is out of pocket and it pushes 57 million people into poverty each year.
Do we still think that this is not a matter of public concern?
Contributed by Aakanksha content writer at Mitti Ke Rang
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