NEW DELHI: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday applauded doctors for going beyond the call of duty to attend to their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and help the nation overcome its gravest challenge in over a century.
Addressing a meeting of eminent doctors, professors of medical science and stalwarts of the medical fraternity through a video conference on the occasion of National Doctors' Day, he condoled the death of doctors due to the pandemic.
"Normally a day to be celebrated with much vigour and zeal, I can't help but feel disheartened thinking about the numerous noble souls from our medical fraternity who left for heavenly abode, most of them much before their time.
"Their loss is deeply unfortunate and yet a matter of immense pride and inspiration for the medical community at large. History shall bear witness that when the time came and humanity needed to be saved, it was the doctors who stepped up to answer the call of duty," Vardhan was quoted as saying in a Health Ministry statement.
He said that if it were not for the overzealous compassion of the medical community towards the plight of their fellow citizens, the story of how this pandemic eventually unfolded would have been drastically different and depressing.
"Many doctors could have opted to stay in the comfort of their homes and see out the pandemic, but not one of you did so. On the contrary, we saw veterans and retired doctors stepping up voluntarily to help in these times of need.
"We saw enthusiastic medical students, young and barely a few years into their adulthood, well aware of the risks, ready to pick up the mantle to help the nation overcome its gravest challenge in over a century!," the health ministry said.
Although the medical profession has been always considered a noble one and indeed many patients consider doctors as no less than god, COVID-19 has made this much more evident, Vardhan said.
Invoking the Hippocratic Oath, he further said, "Wherever Art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity -- said Hippocrates. It is your spirit of service, combined with your intelligence, that places you in this unique position to save the people of this country from this threat."
Advising doctors to minimise risk to their lives, Vardhan enumerated a three-fold action plan for them to defeat COVID-19.
"One, take care of yourself and follow proper protocols in handling patients. We do not want any of you to be infected. I personally can't bear the loss of another corona warrior. Two, we have to fight this virus as well as an infodemic. Many people visit your clinics. They trust you and follow your words. You are not only a doctor but also a role model and guide. Tell the communities the do's and don'ts to prevent the spread of this virus.
"Three, stay connected with your peers and with all of us. Be apprised of the diagnostic and treatment protocols and also contribute to it based on your knowledge and experience. What you are doing is both empowering as well as a privilege -- people confide in you, trust you with their lives, look up to you," he said.
The Union Health Minister also took the occasion to thank the families of doctors and acknowledged the turmoil and dilemma they must have gone through each day.
"To stay away from family and friends when the world faces an existential threat is no easy task. For them to have a loved one at the forefront of this battle must have been even more daunting," Vardhan said.