SILCHAR, Aug 10 - At a time when COVID-19 cases are shooting up across Barak Valley, people have expressed concern over the healthcare facilities in this part of the region.
The Proactive Senior Citizens� Forum, Silchar, a non-political social organisation, sent a memorandum to the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan, with copies to the PMO drawing attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, local MPs of Silchar and Karimganj and former MP of Silchar for their intervention.
�A medical college, established in 1968, offering MBBS, MS, MD degrees, is enmeshed with many painful shortcomings. The departments of Cardiology and Oncology have no professors, associate or even assistant professors. Patients suffering from heart attack are advised to move to either Guwahati or Shillong and most of them die on the way. For cancer patients, Cobalt Ray machine serves as a showcase. At this crucial juncture, when the COVID-19 pandemic is fast spreading its grasp, it appears that the medical college lacks the manpower to cope with the increasing number of cases, as the seats at the hospital seem to near a saturation point,� said Prof Dilip Kumar Dey, secretary of the forum and ex-principal of Teachers Training College, Silchar.
�Hence, the private hospitals must be given the opportunity to conduct Rapid Antigen Tests and also urged to admit patients in critical condition. Also, the Government may temporarily take over some private hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 patients. But it is sad to notice that patients with chest complication or pregnancy cases are kept awaited for treatment in want of their COVID-19 test results regarding which steps must be taken at the earliest,� he said.
Sadhan Purakayastha, secretary general of the Citizens� Rights Preservation Committee (CRPC) Assam, recollected the commitment made by Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to construct an exclusive 300-bed COVID-19 hospital here. �COVID-19 cases are rising at an alarming rate almost every day. But it is disappointing to see that despite a proactive move by the Health Minister earlier this year, the proposed 300-bed hospital is yet to materialise. The government must steer focus towards the plight of the people here and upgrade the healthcare facilities. Private hospitals must step up to treat COVID-19 patients,� he said.
Meanwhile, owners of some private hospitals of the town, on condition of anonymity, said that since most of the private hospitals have single entry and exit points with narrow passages within, they bear a risk while treating COVID-19 patients.
�In this perplexing situation, only a completely dedicated COVID-19 hospital can solve the situation for which some hospital managements are trying their best for making the arrangements,� said an official from a private hospital.
Interestingly, Cachar ADC (Health) Sumit Sattawan said that already some private hospital technicians have been provided training on how to conduct Rapid Antigen Tests. �A few private hospitals have been approached with the idea of opening a separate wing for treatment of COVID-19 patients. They had also identified a building for treating COVID-19 patients. However, local residents opposed the idea. RAT in private hospitals is in final stage and will start soon as per the SOP is jointly agreed upon,� he said.
Approached for his reaction, Minister for Environment and Forests Parimal Suklabaidya, who is also the chairman of the Silchar Medical College and Hospital management committee, told The Assam Tribune, �The government is conducting Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID-19 cases following the protocol. However, if private hospitals are willing to conduct the Rapid Antigen Tests, there is no point of objection, as it shall only benefit the people.�
However, he was quick to add that even after so many months since the spread of the disease and despite repeated measures for awareness, people were still flouting safety and social distancing norms.