Startups

Startups train workforce in inoculation, healthcare

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Several healthcare startups are upgrading the skills of their workers to help meet the demand for vaccinators and healthcare providers as coronavirus infections rage across India.

The explosive surge in those infected in the last few weeks has strained the healthcare system, forcing hospitals to turn away critically ill patients in many parts of India. Many among the affluent sections have relied on home care services to manage the disease as the healthcare system collapsed. The ferocity of the second wave has also prompted many who were earlier reluctant to vaccinate to seek inoculation.

1mg, a domestic consumer health platform, has partnered with Seekify, an upskilling platform, and Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC) to train medical and nursing students, pharmacists and phlebotomists to administer covid-19 vaccinations.

With the second wave of covid-19 causing deaths at an unprecedented scale, the vaccination of all adults have become a key part of the strategy to reduce hospitalizations and deaths. According to the FICCI E&Y report, more than 100,000 healthcare professionals (as inoculators) and around 200,000 support staff or volunteers would be required to vaccinate the entire adult population.

“1mg’s training program for vaccinators has been designed with experts and has modules on basics of vaccination, how it is to be administered, standard precautions to be taken, monitoring of side effects following immunization, and operational guidelines of the government,” said Dr Varun Gupta, senior vice-president for medical affairs at 1mg. “Post-completion of these training modules, candidates would have to undergo an assessment by HSSC, and only successful candidates will be issued certification from HSSC and 1mg.”

Five hundred healthcare workers have already been trained under this programme, and 1mg aims to train 10,000 professionals, Gupta said.

With the acute pressure on existing health care infrastructure and professionals, there is an immediate need to prepare a second line of inoculators among allied health professionals. The Centre earlier this month announced medical interns, final-year medical undergraduates, nursing students could be deployed to reduce the workload of doctors on covid-19 duty.

“Given the strain on our healthcare infrastructure, this initiative will help in training thousands of healthcare workers and preparing them in the fight against covid,” said Dr Thomas Davis, director of standards and industry engagement, HSSC.

Meena Ganesh, managing director and CEO, Portea Medical, said given the spread of covid and the impact of the second wave, there is a need to ensure the speed of administering vaccinations is expedited.

“We are making an effort towards skilling and training our manpower in vaccination. We have also trained our staff on the various aspects of vaccination. Our cold chain and logistics have been set up for managing the movement of vaccines. Last but not least, our tech platform is also being readied to roll out vaccination for corporates and RWAs (residents welfare associations),” said Ganesh.

Medtalks.in, an online learning platform for healthcare professionals and consumers, is also looking at a similar exercise. “We are constantly developing modules, courses and programmes for doctors, healthcare workers and consumer education on key vaccination protocols, things to keep in mind before and after vaccination, the role of the private sector in scaling up the vaccination drive and key issues that hamper acceptance and growth,” said Nilesh Aggarwal, founder and CEO, Medtalks.in.

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