27 Tuesday
April 2021
No politics in a Pandemic.

Politics (from Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká, ‘affairs of the cities’) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status.

Whenever there are a group of people, there will be power play and one-upmanship ( for want of a more gender neutral word). One sees this in joint families, offices, resident welfare associations, friend circles, clubs and kitty groups.

All human interaction will have political overtones. Now that most regional parties have become really quiet, there are three parties in the fray – BJP, Congress and AAP. None of them are B- teams of each other, though all three borrow heavily from each other’s election manifestos and do the same thing wherever possible while claiming to be totally different from the others.

During a pandemic when the ruling party is putting their star campaigner’s face on the vaccination certificate, it is acceptable as good practice. That ensures that all states also start putting their CM faces on relief material. It gets quite nauseating for a neutral person to see subtle electioneering happening throughout the year.

But the problem is when you question the government or the system as a citizen, it is imagined that you are doing politics only. If you ask the government for more funds for health, it is labelled politics. If you ask for more oxygen, it is declared politics.

Through this post I ask the Prime minister, Home Minister, Chief minister of EVERY STATE in India to please keep Indian lives in mind for the next two weeks. Every day people are dying for lack of oxygen. As a doctor who is trying to liaise with the administration, I can see most North Indian states are getting one third of the Oxygen they need. Hospitals are giving SOS calls every few minutes. One hour oxygen left…. please fill a few cylinders.

It’s heartbreaking as a doctor and infuriating as a citizen. Why are Indian lives so cheap??? Why is it taking so long to mobilise oxygen to hospitals. If their requirement is three times higher, you must ensure the supply is four times. If after 2 weeks of a crisis we are no better than we were on day 1, all of us need to figure out what is wrong.

Can our country not afford to import liquid oxygen for Hospitals, oxygen cylinders for individual usage, Injections Remdesivir and Tocilizumab from ANYWHERE in the world? Is the world unwilling to help us? Do administrators not speak to Doctors to find out what is needed to save lives??? How come there is no roadmap to even save the moderately sick ones because the very sick ones are already dying from lack of ventilators?

See if your MLA and MP are fighting with the CM and PM to allocate more for your district. See if they are leading from the front or are missing in action and will reappear when all has become well.

My dear fellow citizens, in 4- 6 weeks time this crisis will be history. We will forget. We will heal. But I urge you to expect more from your elected representatives. This is not politics. I want all of us to hold EVERY ONE in power ACCOUNTABLE. I want them to move mountains to save our lives now.

That is how civilised societies behave. If we expect to be governed better we must expect more from them. Don’t excuse bad policies and broken promises. Don’t forget those who left you alone when you needed them. And don’t forgive them.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT surgeon Gurgaon

18 Sunday
April 2021
When you vote….

The second wave of Covid pandemic is rampaging through India. Every city has its own horror stories. My phone rings from morning to night asking to arrange hospital beds. There are none available. The requests are endless- oxygen cylinders, concentrators, antiviral medication and plasma donors.

Every hospital is filled to capacity while more people are sitting in wheelchairs taking oxygen in the emergency room. For every one patient who gets discharged there are three waiting in queue.

Doctors and nurses are working round the clock non stop for the past 13 months in a year when everything else stopped. Remember this time last year you all banged thalis and clapped hands for your healthcare workers. But none of you asked for more hospitals, more medical colleges, better infrastructure or more investment in public healthcare.

When the health budget was announced in 2021 I was shocked to note the government plans to spend less on health than we did last year as a nation.Who gave the government the audacity to do this? YOU DID.

When you haven’t asked for better healthcare, why would they give it to you? When you were happy to cheer them over rabble rousing speeches of false promises and religious hate, why are you now looking for good hospitals?

When you never voted for better public schools then why do you complain about the exorbitant school fees ? Government school quality in most states has become deplorable despite government school teachers having high salaries. Teachers are assigned jobs like census collection, door to door contact tracing instead of their real jobs- teaching children. Most government schools in India are dilapidated, run down buildings with poor infrastructure and no washrooms or drinking water. Did you ever vote for better schools?

Did you vote for clean air? Better sanitation? More trees? Then what is the incentive for politicians to give you the same? When you vote on an agenda of hate, on caste and religion, then that is what you are encouraging. That is what you are choosing.

Our choices determine the course of the nation. I urge you to be very clear about what you want – is it more doctors, more hospitals, clean air, clean water, better sanitation, good schools for your children, affordable colleges, public spaces where sports are encouraged? For those of you who are well off and can afford to pay for everything, I urge you to think about where your taxes are being spent. Don’t you want your working staff atleast to utilise government schools and hospitals? Why are you paying taxes otherwise.

I dream of a country where corruption becomes a very serious crime. Where public money is used with transparency and accountability. Where the focus is on health, education and clean air.

While in March 2020 we ignored the pandemic as it started because we were hosting President Trump, in 2021 second wave could have been controlled if there was a ban on massive election rallies and Kumbh melas. People heading back from Kumbh will carry infection all the way back to every village and town.The tsunami of cases will drown our already overburdened hospitals over the next few weeks.

Bodies are lining up outside crematoriums because there aren’t enough beds with high flow oxygen. In the last year we haven’t added one new hospital, but we inaugurated the world’s biggest stadium. We don’t have enough ventilators but we have the world’s tallest statue. We don’t have enough vaccines for all adults but we have been miles of roads.

When you are running from pillar to post trying to arrange an ICU bed for a loved one, please remember who is responsible for the mess we are in.

What you vote for is what you will get, in the end it’s up to you.

Dr Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon
AAP Haryana spokesperson

07 Wednesday
April 2021
A healthy you!

India has completed one year of the Coronavirus pandemic this March. We have been through the longest lockdown, economic slump, loss of jobs, migrant crisis, gradual reopening of the economy and repeated cycles of rise in covid numbers whenever there has been a festival season.Covid vaccination drive started in January and gave great hope to the community. We face another massive wave of Covid cases with partial lockdown in a few cities.

It has been a difficult year for everyone with concepts like work from home, online classes, Zoom celebrations becoming the norm. One thing that struck me is that nothing is more important than health . Remember the adage “Health is wealth”. Covid pandemic has proven that humans need to look after their health more than anything else in the world. Being healthy and alive is more important than money, property, jewellery or the share market.

How much importance have you given to your health in the last one year? Have you started a regime of exercise, meditation and staying happy?

45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise six days a week is compulsory for every human being. One needs to eat, sleep, breathe and also exercise. Choose any form you like- a sport, brisk walking running, jogging, cycling, Yoga, Pilates or dance. It is especially important for women of all ages to take out time for their exercise routine. People over 45 also need to do some form of weight lifting so that their bones do not become weak. Women and elderly are at a higher risk of Osteoporosis where mild trauma can cause fractures.

Children need to get off their laptops, television sets, phones and spend at least 2 hours in outdoor play. In Covid times this can be quite challenging to find safe places for children to play but having children indoors for more than a year is detrimental to their mental, social and physical health.

Mental health is a vital component of well being and it is important to remain connected, feel loved, wanted and remain cheerful. I find counting my blessings first thing in the morning a very nice way to remain in gratitude. Take time to be grateful for what you have- food on the table, a roof over your head and family members who are well. In today’s times all of these are most important. If you feel dull, low, anxious or unhappy please seek help early through family members or professionals.

There has been a lot of information circulating on WhatsApp about immunity boosters, taking steam and drinking hot water to stay healthy. A well balanced nutritious diet consisting of freshly cooked food, multiple helpings of seasonal fruits and vegetables is the perfect way to keep your immune system intact and well. One can have junk / packed/ processed foods/ carbonated drinks in very limited quantities.

Staying healthy also needs clean air and water. Please work towards a cleaner environment. Try to improve waste management in your house , start composting and Say No to Single use plastic.Do not allow garbage or garden waste to be burnt. Plant a lot of trees in your neighborhood.

Wearing a mask properly covering the nose and mouth is a key feature. This pandemic could last a few years so it’s best that you take Covid vaccination whenever you are eligible. Avoid crowded places and nonessential travel.

Make peace with the new normal, keep smiling and keep moving forward. Wishing you a very happy World Health Day.

Warm regards
Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon Gurgaon