Vipin Krishnan’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the news of his video interaction with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was flashed across media platforms. Krishnan was one of the four nurses who were selected for Gandhi’s interaction on ‘Doctor’s Day’, in which they spoke about the challenges faced by frontline warriors who are putting their lives at risk in the fight against Covid-19.
“I am extremely proud that I represented Indian nurses in the show,” says Krishnan, a staff nurse at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi.
The show, which was aired on Wednesday, was the latest episode in the series of conversations that the Congress leader has been holding on the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of his dialogues with various experts, Gandhi has spoken to leading global economists Raghuram Rajan and Abhijit Banerjee; internationally renowned epidemiologist Johann Giesceke; global public health expert Ashish Jha and Indian industrialist Rajiv Bajaj.
“It is the first time that a mainstream politician is talking about our issues in a public forum and I hope it will lead to more discussions on our issues,” says Krishnan, who has been working with AIIMS for the past 10 years.
Krishnan, a former office-bearer of the nurses union at AIIMS, felt that the conversation was recognition for the frontline health workers.
The pandemic has exposed the lapses in the system when health workers had to struggle for basic necessities such as protective gear, accommodation, and food. The discussion has brought the discriminatory attitude towards frontline workers and the existing pay disparity into limelight.
“This conversation is very important for the nursing community as it comes from one of country’s topmost politician, a policymaker and a highly skilled leader,” he said.
The talks also hinged on the grave apathy and discrimination faced by the nursing community in the face of the pandemic. Gandhi has a good understanding of the importance to protect the frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic, said Krishnan.
“We, the healthcare workers, never got recognition in this battle. But today, nurses in India and abroad consider this as a huge recognition,” he said.
Gandhi gave a patient hearing on the acute shortage of doctors and nurses in India and how the pandemic has exacerbated the crisis, said Krishnan, who hails from Calicut in Kerala.
The discussion also touched upon how policymakers can bring about quality change in protecting the interests of the health workers and the immediate steps that need to be taken.
“I also told him about how some private hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai have cut the salaries of nurses and the existing disparities in pay packages. It’s not a situation where we can go into a strike to ensure our pay. It’s the responsibility of the ruling government,” he said.
Gandhi also assured the participants that he will look into the delay in receiving the compensation for health workers who died due to Corona. “He assured that he will try to get it done”.
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Rahul Gandhi was also concerned about how non- corona patients are struggling to seek medical care due to lack of resources, he said. Krishnan, who is a corona survivor, is happy that Rahul Gandhi congratulated him in his personal fight against the virus. “I and my wife are Corona survivors and I am glad that Gandhi inquired about my health,” he said.
The other three nurses who participated in the discussion included— Anu Ragnat, who is working in New Zealand, Narendra Singh from Australia, and Sherlymol Puravady from the United Kingdom.
“Gandhi wanted to know how New Zealand flattened the curve and the methods adopted by those countries to contain the spread,” he adds.
It was a pleasant surprise for Krishnan when he received the invitation from the Congress leader’s office to participate in the discussion. “It was unexpected and I was very thrilled."