The red flags in India's Covid-19 fightback
The parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare report has flagged off concerns over certain aspects of the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis. The committee report, submitted to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, identifies the implementation gaps during the course of executing its contingency plan. Here's what the report found.
Report says: "This ramping up is commendable. However, the Committee finds that the testing facility is only limited to bigger districts and cities. Lack of testing facilities in rural areas has also resulted in the underreporting of cases. The PHCs and CHCs are still largely devoid of any testing facilities and the required technical workforce. Health ministry must establish a strong network of Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories in the country to tackle the constantly increasing incidence of COVID-19 cases and enhance the efficacy plan of containment of the pandemic."
Report says: "Arriving at a sustainable pricing model to treat Covid patients could have averted many deaths. Private hospitals are charging exorbitant medical fees that were beyond the reach of many. The Ministry to constantly make efforts to minimise the out-of-pocket expenditure of patients due to Covid and update the details of the beneficiaries on the PMJAY scheme's IT System"
Report says: "Number of government hospital beds was grossly inadequate keeping in view the rising cases. As the numbers were on the rise, a frantic search for vacant hospital beds became quite harrowing. Instances of patients being turned away from overburdened hospitals due to lack of vacant beds became the new normal. Closure of OPD services in government hospitals crippled the healthcare delivery system in the country. The Government must increase the investment in public health."
Report says: "Poor contact tracing and slow testing in the initial phase of pandemic led to the increased number of infections. There have been few glaring lapses like shortage of emergency supplies, red-tapism, shortage and quality of testing kits and delay in domestic production. The Committee feels that NCDP-IDSP should have been utilized in a more effective manner especially when the sole objective of IDSP is to detect and respond to outbreaks in the early rising phase through trained Rapid Response Teams."
Report says: "Violence against women increased during the lockdown period as the perpetrators of violence and susceptible both stayed at home. Access to contraceptives or healthcare services became difficult which led to many unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. The pandemic only adversely affected women's social and mental well being but also disrupted access to healthcare services especially sexual and reproductive healthcare services."
Report says: "There has been a considerable rise in mental health issues during the lockdown. Sudden loss of employment and social isolation aggravated the psychological burden among the masses. There is no denying the fact that staying in touch with friends or family is a typical mechanism for coping with stress but during the lockdown in the absence of any coping mechanism, working-age adults, students etc who live alone, were more prone to depression."