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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

What are volunteers being taught in the Delhi government’s health assistant programme?

In this programme, participants are to go through one week of lectures and demonstrations and one week of practical work, with course content beginning from the basics of respiration and going on to the medico-legal aspects of COVID.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
June 30, 2021 11:07:08 am
A girl being vaccinated against coronavirus. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

Short courses on the respiratory system, the circulatory system, triage and first aid, collecting blood samples, giving injections – this, and more, will be part of the two week training for health assistants under the Delhi government’s programme.

Earlier this week, the government began the programme as part of its preparation for a possible third COVID wave. In this programme, participants are to go through one week of lectures and demonstrations and one week of practical work, with course content beginning from the basics of respiration and going on to the medico-legal aspects of COVID.

An 84-page handbook has been prepared for this certificate course, with short modules on the respiratory system, the circulatory system, basic life support, triage and first aid, handling PPEs, basic home care for COVID patients, basic nursing care, collecting blood samples, giving injections, patient counselling and informed consent, and the medico-legal aspects of COVID.

The course seeks to fit in a huge range of skills including measuring blood oxygen levels using a pulse oximeter and arterial gas analysis; measuring heart rate manually, with an ECG monitor and with a pulse oximeter; measuring blood pressure and body temperature; giving basic life support; open wound management; the use of spinal protection mechanisms such as cervical collar and log rolling; suctioning; how to use PPEs; collecting urine, stool, capillary, blood and RTPCR samples; giving intravenous and intramuscular injections; and a wide range of nursing care skills from use of catheters and tube feeding to bed making.

The training has begun for a first batch of 500 ‘health assistant’ and the qualifying criterion is that they must be above 18 years of age and must have a class XII pass certificate.

There has been discontent among the nursing community over this programme, with some of them arguing that a training such as this for people with no prior medical education or experience is not adequate to deal with sick patients.

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