Complete lockdown for 3 weeks was declared on 24th of March 2020 by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India which was to be implemented from 25th March 2020 and thus hardly four hours notice was given to the people of country. Centre felt that uniformity was to be followed across the country and hence invoked National Disaster Management Act 2005. Hon’ble PM appealed to all countrymen that if we do not follow the lockdown strictly for 21 days then the country and the Indian family will go back for 21 years and many families would be destroyed. His emotional appeal ‘JAAN HAIN TO JAHAN HAI” was well received by the countrymen. It was declared as a war against COVID-19 like a war fought during Mahabharata regime. By giving reference of the various countries he stressed for social distancing as the only solution to avoid spreading of this virus. Provision of Rs.15000 crores was made for corona virus testing facilities, personal protective equipment, beds, ventilators and other infrastructure. It was also declared that both Government Hospitals and Private Doctors would be helping to fight out corona virus.
Accordingly, MHA issued Order No.40-3/2020-D dated 24.03.2020 wherein barring essential services all other institutions were closed and not allowed to operate. In this, hospitals both from Public and Private sectors were allowed to function. Lockdown was strictly implemented but unfortunately it did not yield good results moreover it worsened the situation as number of corona virus victims and fatalities increased to a considerable number. Both Central and State Governments were so rattled that they were compelled to extend the lockdown and thus from lockdown 1.0 since 24th March 2020 the journey continued till lockdown 5.0. Finally, since the governments felt the heat of economic slowdown it took decision of opening of lockdown 1.0 and slowly the other business activities were allowed to function. But, the fear in the minds of people because of rising corona virus victims and fatalities has reached to such a level that everyone in the society is looking suspiciously at others. They have lost the confidence to start the routine. Even if shops and offices are opened there is hardly any attendance in shops and offices.
During all these lockdown period many guidelines were issued by MHA and even states were allowed to take decisions as per the situations prevailing in their states and issue guidelines accordingly. Various guidelines were issued as regards to checking, testing and treating the COVID-19 victims. Sometimes the private labs and doctors were allowed to test and treat the Covid patients and sometimes they were restricted. Thus, a huge amount of confusion was created which affected the treatments of patients other than COVID. If at all any serious patients with heart, sugar, TB, cancer ailments were approaching for treatments, doctors were in confused state of mind whether to treat them first or to either get patients a Covid -ve certificate or perform test on such patients before giving the requisite treatment to patients. Government should have come with clear guidelines to treat all type of patients and if at all they feel that patient is COVID-19 affected then he should be either treated by them or should be referred to the designated hospitals and all other patients who are asymptomatic should be properly treated.
Thus, India focused largely on responding to the threat from Covid-19 and this resulted in turning a blind eye to deaths due to other causes as a result of highly restricted access to healthcare during the lockdown. Patients other than covid-19 were made to run from one hospital to another due to non-availability of beds or suitable infrastructure, many of such patients succumbed to their ailments. Many of the private hospitals were also forced to keep maximum number of beds for COVID-19 patients which affected the treatment of regular patients with other ailments. These deaths from other causes could have been prevented. This has not only reflected the weakness of the Indian health care system but also has posed many questions/challenges as regards to planning and preparedness in case of such pandemics and other calamities. This is also a huge challenge while fighting the coronavirus itself.
An analysis based on a review of National Health Mission data across the country for the month of March and April 2020 shows a disturbing picture in comparison to similar periods of 2019: it showed that about 100,000 fewer cancer patients reached hospitals, 450,000 fewer children received vaccinations and 30% fewer obstetric emergencies were presented to the hospitals. These three-month of lockdown period and a 10-month recovery phase, the number of additional deaths due to TB alone would be more than 500,000. Latest authentic data related deaths due to accidents, hunger, suicides etc. are not at all available because of lapses in the system.
In India apart from heart and respiratory diseases nearly 2000 die every day from diarrhoea and over 1200 from TB. As per National Centre for Disease Control, India, Swine flu (H1N1) continues to kill over a 1000 each year in India. On an average of 500 and above daily deaths are due to traffic accidents. As per NCRB 2018 data 1 child dies in every two minutes due to Diarrhoea and pneumonia. All these above data speak that many of the deaths are avoidable.
From the above data when compared to COVID-19 fatality, don’t you feel that we are neglecting the patients with other ailments?
By neglecting other patients are we not losing our valuable human resources?
Should the government and local administrations review its guidelines and measures on lockdowns to concentrate on the patients with ailments other than that of COVID-19 victims?
Is India equipped with appropriate infrastructure and proper health care system?
Should government spend more on improvement of health care system and insurance for the poor and weaker section of the society?
Is the social security facility the need of the hour?
Adv. J. S. Rao
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