Patna: After the Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, over 50,000 migrant labourers working across the country who were rendered jobless have started returning back to Bihar. But the government data of the state-run healthcare shows a whopping deficit of infrastructure facilities and a dearth of medical professionals.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ordered that the migrant workers coming back to the state will be sent to a 14-day mandatory quarantine. CM has also asked authorities to set-up relief camps for the migrant workers with regular supply of food.
Data released by the state government revealed a severe lack of hospitals and primary health care centres in the state. According to a 2016 report by the Department of Industry, Government of Bihar, out of the required 40 Medical colleges and hospitals the state only had nine hospitals functioning while it was short of 31 hospitals.
Talking about district hospitals, out of the 38 required hospitals the state had 36, while for the 212 required sub-divisional hospitals, the state only had 44 hospitals. It also falls short of the required primary and rural health centres. Bihar has only 533 primary health centres while the required number is 3,314. The state has 1,350 additional primary health centres of the required 2,787 and 9,729 health sub-centres of the required 20,997.
After the migrant population started returning to the state, the state government has purchased 15,000 thermal screening kits and taken measures to screen the migrants. The state government has further ordered that village schools and the panchayat bhawans would be made to function as quarantine centres, a report by India Today stated. Other media reports stated that 3,500 people have returned from abroad to Bihar in the last ten days.
To cope up with the outbreak, the state government had ordered private hospitals- Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital and New Gardiner Road Hospital to close all the OPD facilities to make way for Coronavirus patients.
The state also falls short of the health care staff to deal with the pandemic outbreak. Of the sanctioned 701 specialist doctors, the state has only 390 doctors. Whereas, out of the sanctioned 695 general doctors the state has 346 doctors and out of the required 4,957 staff nurses, the state has just 566 nurses.
Meanwhile, 83 junior doctors of the Nalanda Medical College and Hospital in Patna had requested the authorities for a 15-day home quarantine after many of them had developed symptoms of the viral disease. Earlier, the doctors had complained about the lack of protective masks and personal protective equipment kits.
The deficit health facility comes at a time when the state underwent through ‘Chamki Bukhaar’ or Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in the Muzaffarpur district which claimed around 175 lives last year.
Furthermore, the state has underutilised the funds allotted by the Centre under the National Health Mission and they used close to 50% of the sanctioned Rs 3,300 crore of the total health budget. So far, the Bihar has reported nine cases of Coronavirus including one death.