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Woman power driving Covid-19 testing in UP

LUCKNOW: The four-year-old daughter of Dr Namita Srivastava, head of microbiology department in Rani Lakshmi Bai Medical College in Jhansi, has to wait for 20-30 minutes for her mother’s embrace as she has to sanitize herself after returning home. “Prevention drill cannot be ignored under any circumstances. It is a matter of life and death,” said Dr Srivastava, whose team has conducted over five lakh Covid-19 tests in the last one year.
In Saharanpur Medical College, Dr Pragya Shakya is leading from the front. She played an important role in development of the lab which is conducting over 850 tests per day. “I have raised my child according to the prevailing situation. She knows that she can hug her ‘mumma’ only when she is leaving and not when she returns,” she said.
Her colleague, Dr Indu Menon, feels that achieving work-life balance was the biggest challenge in the pandemic era. She said those working in labs live by the day and in an auto-mode to a great extent. “You cannot think too much. In fact, there is hardly any time. The goals are too pressing and you cannot escape the responsibility,” she said. These three women lend a face to UP’s Covid-19 testing story that created a new milestone in conducting RTPCR tests on Monday.
“Creating a new record, labs in Uttar Pradesh have conducted over 1.29 lakh Covid-19 tests through RT-PCR. This is the maximum number of RT-PCR tests done in a single day in the state,” said principal secretary, medical education, Alok Kumar-II.
Adding that the total number of tests done in UP so far is 4.15 crore, which is over 14% of the total tests done in the country, he said: “Women are driving the testing bandwagon in UP. They are not only leading, they are keeping their teams motivated enough to walk the extra mile.”
Some of these women have placed their duty before their families and, at times, it hurts. Dr Arti Agarwal, head of microbiology department at SN Medical College, said: “Initially, we used to send samples to KGMU but then we started the facility here and the rest is history. Our lab has conducted more than seven lakh tests till date.” “I miss my family very much but nothing can be done,” she said with tears in her eyes when asked about her family life. Head, microbiology department, SGPGIMS, Prof Ujalla Ghoshal said: “It happens, but then it is an outcome of our choice. The responsibility is huge. But there is a positive aspect to the pandemic too, especially for us. It has brought some recognition to our role in medical treatment. People have also understood our importance which is a good thing.”
Over 11 lakh Covid-19 tests have been done at SGPGI. Prof Amita Jain, head of microbiology department at KGMU said individual contributions by team members scripted the story. KGMU’s microbiology department has been advising the state government on testing from the first day. It has not only created a record in conducting Covid-19 tests but has also been a leader in use of pool testing, Truenat machines, besides undertaking genome sequencing work.

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