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India ready to fight Coronavirus amid 'poor' health infrastructure


New Delhi: At a time when COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the WHO and the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed all affected states to go for complete/partial lockdown, the availability of healthcare facilities is a major concern for both the Centre and the state to deal with national medical emergency.

According to National Health Profile 2019, the country has 11,54,686 allopathic doctors and 7,99,879 Ayush doctors. Though Ayush doctors are not yet 'considered' for treating critical patients, the services of only allopathic doctors and paramedical staff would be utilised in the fight against COVID-19.

However, the Centre has identified 800-bedded National Cancer Institute, Jhajjar under All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for COVID-19 patients only. The government has also asked all the states to strengthen their healthcare infrastructure facilities by identifying separate hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

At present, the average population served by an allopathic doctor is around 1,500 and the availability of beds across the country is about 3,57,968, which means on 3,500 patients, there is one bed. The situation is more worrisome in rural India as it had 3.2 just government hospital beds per 10,000 people.

As per the National Health Profile-2019, the country has about 20,48,979 registered nurses and registered midwives, 8,60,927 auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) and 56,469 lady health visitor. Also, the country has 11,25,000 pharmacists across the country.

According to the NHP report, a total number of doctors at primary health care centres is 27,567, while specialists at the CHCs are 4,074. The country has total 27,079 health assistants out of which 11,406 are male assistants and 15,673 are female. Similarly, there are about 2,73,425 health workers in the country, out of which 2,19,326 are female and 54,099 are health workers.

The situation of availability of beds in states is more disturbing as states have a significantly lower number of beds. Uttar Pradesh is at 2.5 beds per 10,000 people in rural areas. Rajasthan and Jharkhand are at 2.4 and 2.3, respectively. Maharashtra, which has reported the maximum number of

74 COVID-19 cases, is at 2, and Bihar is at 0.6.

Meanwhile, the Centre has placed an order of 1,200 ventilators and has asked states to procure ventilators to deal with the unprecedented health emergency. The Gujarat government, which has reported 29 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, has dedicated a 1200-bed hospital in Ahmedabad for Covid-29 patients in the state.

Other states, which are hit by COVID-19, are creating quarantine and isolation centres for the patients with the help of Army and state agencies.

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