Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
Thousands of Indian doctors who have completed their medical degrees from Russia, China and Ukraine are sitting idly waiting for their licenses, while the country battles deadly second wave of coronavirus.
Some 9,000 susch medics are now urging government to put them to work in the battle against COVID-19.
Graduates from overseas medical schools including Bangladesh, Philippines, Nepal and Kyrgyzstan have to pass local exams in India before they are allowed to practise.
Many have either cleared the exams and are waiting for their licenses to be issued, while others are to sit for the test next month.
"We are not demanding that foreign graduates should be allowed to conduct surgeries, but they must be allowed to work as frontline workers at such a critical juncture," said Najeerul Ameen, President of All India Foreign Medical Graduates Association.
Ameen said thousands of the foreign medical graduates were standing idle despite being keen to work. The World Health Organization recognises their degrees.
Officials at the National Board of Examination (NBE) said the exams were mandatory because they had not been trained in India.
"They are not accustomed to Indian health care problems at all," said Pawanindra Lal, executive director of the NBE.
"Over the next few weeks we'll be seeing the death of patients in ICUs (intensive care units) because there may be no nurses and doctors to take care of them. This is going to happen," said Dr Devi Shetty, a prominent cardiologist at a recent conference.
Nowhere in the world has been hit harder by the pandemic than India, as a new variant of the virus fuelled a surge in infections that has risen to more than 400,000 daily, with more than 4,000 deaths a day, overwhelming the health system.
As the second wave takes its toll, health experts are warning that India will soon face a shortage of medical staff in critical care units
Last week, overworked nurses and paramedics in government hospitals in the western state of Gujarat went on a strike asking for better wages and insurance cover.
In the southern city of Bengaluru, a helicopter showered flowers over Victoria Hospital, as doctors and other medical workers in hospital gowns and masks cheered on, local television showed. A military band played alongside.
He lamented that so many healthcare workers lost their lives in the last 18 months and many more will lose as long as the pandemic rages. Based on current trends, the number of deaths will overtake last year's total within the next three weeks, Ghebreyesus said.
Another batch of doctors and nurses left the southern Indian port city of Kochi for the UAE on Wednesday to join the ongoing battle against the new coronavirus.
These doctors belong to the SCTIMST (Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology) in Thiruvananthapuram, an institution of national importance under the Central government's Department of Science and Technology.
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