With the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, the Bihar government is apparently struggling to provide medical facilities to patients. Hospitals are having to cope with shortage of oxygen cylinders as well.
The State government has urged the Defence Ministry to depute Army doctors at the dedicated COVID-19 hospital at Bihta, near Patna. “I’ve sent a letter to the Defence Secretary urging him to depute at least 50 doctors so that all 500 beds at the dedicated hospital can be utilised. It will ease the load in Patna-based hospitals,” said Pratyaya Amrit, Principal Secretary in the State Health Department.
Sources in the department told The Hindu that directives had been given to add 30-50 beds in various government hospitals.
However, hospitals are facing an acute shortage of doctors, nurses and para-medical staff. In government hospitals, 75% of the posts of nursing and para-medical staff are reportedly vacant. Also, infrastructure to cope with a large rush of patients is lacking in most of them.
Last year, on May 16, the Health Department had informed the Patna High Court that out of 11,645 sanctioned posts of doctors in the State, 8,768 were vacant, 5,600 of them in rural areas.
On Thursday, the Patna District Magistrate deputed magistrates at three agencies supplying oxygen cylinders to ensure seamless availability at hospitals. Most of the private hospitals in Patna have stopped admitting COVID-19 patients due to lack of oxygen cylinders.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 patients are thronging government and private hospitals, only to be turned away for lack of beds. As many as 4786 new cases were reported in Bihar in the last 24-hours and 21 have died. In the last two weeks, 75 people have lost their lives.
The State’s Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, a Minister and several top officials are reported to have been infected. The Bettiah district court in West Champaran had to shut down for five days after 25 positive cases one death were reported. Party headquarters of the ruling Janata Dal (United) has been locked till April 20. Party offices of other political parties in Patna too wore a deserted look.
Videos of relatives of patients wailing and complaining about lack of infrastructure and care in government hospitals have been going viral on social media.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday took the second dose of vaccine at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna. He told media persons that the “number of beds at dedicated COVID-19 hospitals was being increased. The government, he said, would implement suggestions that emerge at all-party meeting called by the Governor on April 17.