In continuation with the ongoing discussions on the Rural Realities and COVID-19 Pandemic around the country, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a Panel Discussion on “Rural Realities | Telangana & Andhra Pradesh | Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on May 14, 2021, as the second wave of coronavirus pandemic is engulfing the length and breadth of our country, India, and hitting the heartland of our country which is the rural areas.
Time to Understand Inequality of Distribution
Dr. P B N Gopal, Chief of Critical Care and Senior Consultant Intensivist, Continental Hospitals pointed that the Telugu states were set before division in 2014, the whole socio-political and medical region for almost half-century was centered in Hyderabad.
The medical infrastructural and educational systems were not evenly developed in Telugu states. The COVID pandemic struck in such a situation where the medical facilities are widely variable both in public and private sectors in both states.
The results seen in the first wave of COVID-19 are very much different from the results seen in the second wave. Reason being facing the first wave of COVID-19 the response was national whereas facing the second wave of it the response is regional.
Dr. Gopal states that there is no transparency in what people are getting and whether medical facilities have reached the last mile or not. Starting vaccination drive in inter pandemic period and lack of preventive measure to tackle the spread of the second wave are major issues.
He further underlined that the second priority given in vaccination to elderly people was skewed and should have been given to migrant laborers. He dwelled upon that majority of the population in the second wave are younger, fitter, and sicker resulting in increased mortality.
Talking about medical facilities Dr. Gopal stated that testing, Vaccination, and treatment are severely lacking in rural areas of both states. There exists a lack of central command in both states taking into account the availability of beds, Proportion of health care workers indicating a lack of data.
We need to follow triaging policy so that we can treat able men first, who can go out and serve the society on the other hand we are thinking about the sickest first which has the highest mortality and expenditure and the least outcome. There also exists no regulation of oxygen supply proportionately to the highest number of attendees’ hospital. Government lacks data on the number of patients in corporate, private, and public hospitals and statistics supply of oxygen from various non-government organizations.
Dr. Gopal also highlights a major point that there exist non-pulmonary infections of various organs lungs, brains, intestine, and kidneys along with secondary infection. He further stated that the highest risk factor is obesity with obese and elderly people having high mortality in the first wave of the pandemic while the second wave of the pandemic has hit younger and sicker patients resulting in stagnant bed occupancy rates.