Healthcare in Tripura is raising questions... will the government answer?

10 BiPap machines and 19 ventilators in the G B Pant hospital, the state's main dedicated COVID hospital are not in use

Media and judiciary are the two main pillars of democracy, which can influence the administration and lead the government to take positive steps. When the media in Tripura exposed the BJP-IPFT Government's inept handling of the COVID-19 situation in the state, the High Court of the state on Sept 11 directed the state government to submit an affidavit within September 18 providing detailed information on the infrastructure available in state-run G B Pant Hospital (at the capita)l to treat coronavirus patients.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who is also the health minister of the state, in a statement on Sept 21 in the assembly explained the steps taken by his government to tackle the situation and related problems like supply of medicine and healthcare equipments, COVID testing and relief operations extended for the needy. "Tripura is the only state where door-to-door survey was done to identify people with risk potential health department reports from the last five years show that on an average about 18-24 people have died every day in Tripura. Today about 19-23 people are dying (everyday) during the COVID pandemic. Among these, seven deaths are of COVID positive people. So, even as COVID-19 is pushing people to their deaths, numbers of COVID deaths are actually very negligible. Moreover, these corona patients are dying due to co-morbidities like cardiac ailments, brain stroke, chronic liver failure etc", Deb said in his statement. "About 33 percent of all these casualties were people between 60-70 years of age and 40 percent of these people were hospitalized only 24 hours prior to their death. This shows that late hospitalization is one main reason for deaths", he said. Deb also said that his government has promptly ramped up supply of protective gears, drugs, equipments, testing services etc to tackle the pandemic.Even as Deb claimed COVID deaths in Tripura are 'almost negligible', a report recently released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said the state has a 1.11 percent COVID fatality rate, the highest in Northeast India.
Common people are of the opinion that there is a lot to be achieved by the government so that people do not die uncared for
Doctors, healthcare staffs and common people are of the opinion that there is a lot to be achieved on the part of the government so that people do not die uncared and untreated.A two-member central health team comprising of two senior doctors, Daisy Panna, consultant epidemiologist, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and P.K. Verma, assistant professor, Respiratory Medicine, Lady Hardinge Memorial College (LHMC), visited different parts of Tripura over a period of 10 days and concluded their works on September 18 last. The report said, 10 BiPap machines and 19 ventilators in the G B Pant Hospital, the state's main dedicated COVID hospital are not in use. There is a death register in the hospital, which records the date of deaths but there are no records in terms of what diseases the deceased was suffering from. There is one infection control committee but there is no record of any of its meetings. When the team visited the hospital the X-ray machine and CT scan machines were not functioning. There was no display of the duty chart of the doctors and no doctor on call. However, what was more alarming is that many used PPE kits were lying on the floors of the hospital and many staffs were moving in the hospital wards without PPE.
Representative image
Image: Representative image
The team has suggested improvement of the situation that includes immediate installation of the X ray and CT scan machines and ventilators and setting up of oxygen plants in all the eight districts of the state. It further suggested that the doctors after completion of their rounds should meet together and review the situation. Further the ICUs in all the hospitals should be made fully operational. The report also suggested increasing the rate of testing in the containment zones. Now it remains to be seen how the government will react and what steps will it take to improve the situation.



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