COVID-19: Madhya Pradesh reels under ventilator shortage

The state has only one ventilator for one lakh population, according to government data 

By Manish Chandra Mishra
Published: Wednesday 08 April 2020
An intensive care unit. Source: Wikipedia

Madhya Pradesh is witnessing a sharp rise in the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and with it, a glaring challenge — lack of ventilators. Only one ventilator is available for one lakh population in the state, according to the state government data. 

The state recorded 268 positive COVID-19 cases and 18 deaths as on April 6, 2020. Of this, Indore recorded 151 cases and 13 deaths. Bhopal, the capital city, registered 12 new cases on April 7, taking the city tally to 74.

Around 17,886 people are under observation across the state, according to the data. About 8,170 people are under home quarantine and 1,595 under observation in isolation wards of various hospitals.

As cases continue to see gradual but continuous spike, the state’s healthcare infrastructure is feeling the burden. The state has a total of 836 ventilators and 2,073 intensive care unit (ICU) beds in all hospitals combined, according to government data.

Of these, at least 319 ventilators and 394 ICU beds are in five medical colleges in Bhopal, Jabalpur, Rewa, Sagar and Indore; 132 ventilators and 418 ICU beds in eight private medical colleges; and 385 ventilators and 1,261 ICU beds in 107 identified private hospitals.

The figures point to a dismal scenario — the state has only 2.5 ICU beds available for one lakh people — which is far less than Italy’s average of 12.5 beds per one lakh people. Madhya Pradesh and Italy have a similar population size. 

This is not it. Only one ventilator is available for one lakh population in the state. It is also facing a shortage of specialist doctors; out of 2,195 posts, only 1,210 have been filled so far.

The state has 3,324 oxygen cylinders so far and at least 1,000 more will be procured soon, according to officials.

A recent survey conducted among IAS officers by the central government showed the poor conditions of health facilities in Madhya Pradesh.

“Two district officials counted the general poor health infrastructure as a limiting factor in the fight against COVID-19 as well as availability of PPEs and ventilators,” the survey stated.

“The district does not have any private hospitals or doctors. The entire burden is on government health infrastructure,” an official said.

Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), a non-profit, advised the state government to enhance testing capacity in its latest health bulletin.

“Madhya Pradesh has wasted a lot of time due to political instability. Currently, the state does not have a full-time health minister who could manage the crisis,” Amulya Nidhi of JSA said.

Some experts believe that the state has even lesser ventilators.

“More than 23 patients are critical in Indore. There will be a shortage of ventilators in near future,” health activist Anand Rai told DTE.

Rai suggested the state government to spend the Rs 990 crore fund sanctioned by the central government for medical purposes only.

“The government can use this fund for procuring PPE kits and other medical equipment. They can also dole out allowances to the medical staff.”

Madhya Pradesh is capable of performing 500 COVID-19 tests daily, according to the health ministry. 

Tests are being conducted in six labs. The state has already performed 2,812 COVID-19 tests, out of which 1,954 samples were found to be negative.

According to government data:

Currently, 21,911 PPE kits are available with hospitals. Around 12,884 kits have been used so far. Around 172,000 kits are proposed to be procured. The state has 77,741 N-95 masks and 31,579 masks have been used so far. It plans to procure 211,000 masks.

According to the Centre's directives, medical staff have been advised to take hydroxychloroquine tablets as a precautionary measure. Over 225,000 such tablets are available with the government and 10 lakh more will be procured soon.

Considering the scarcity of PPE kits, health commissioner Faiz Ahmed Kidwai advised his staff to use them appropriately.

The state government, meanwhile, is using a geo-location based app ‘Sarthak’ for surveillance of home quarantined people.

“About 26,800 people are under surveillance. They consented to being kept a tab,” the government said.

 The government has also made arrangements for telemedicine facility.

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