C-sections, trauma care hit at manpower starved rural hospitals in Maharashtra: Survey | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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C-sections, trauma care hit at manpower starved rural hospitals in Maharashtra: Survey

ByJyoti Shelar, Mumbai
Aug 27, 2021 11:43 PM IST

Cataract operations, minor surgeries and sterilisation procedures were postponed indefinitely as hospitals immersed into Covid care

Routine healthcare services like cesarean sections, trauma care and other surgeries took a severe hit in rural Maharashtra during the pandemic, according to a survey by non-profit Jan Arogya Abhiyan (JAA). The result released on Friday showed at least 11 hospitals that were surveyed did not treat accident cases due to Covid, 22 rural and sub-district hospitals had stopped performing C-section procedures and 12 had stopped performing other surgical procedures.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Cataract operations, minor surgeries and sterilisation procedures were postponed indefinitely as hospitals immersed into Covid care. Also, since the hospitals were already under-resourced, they could not reserve the capacity and continue routine procedures. The unavailability of services in public health facilities forced patients to go to private hospitals. This led to huge expenses and debts for many families, the report observed.

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Many hospitals in the state- public and private- had halted non-Covid and non-emergency services due to the fear of infection among patients. Patients too preferred delaying their treatments or opting for non-Covid facilities due to the same fear.

The survey was conducted in July through a network of JAA activists and volunteers who interviewed hospital staff including doctors, nurses and administrators. The survey covered 122 Primary Health Centres (PHCs), 24 rural hospitals and 14 sub-district hospitals in Maharashtra’s 17 districts- Akola, Amravati, Ahmednagar, Osmanabad, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Thane, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Palghar, Pune, Beed, Yavatmal, Solapur and Hingoli.

According to the report, there was only one permanent medical officer in 51% of the surveyed PHCs, which meant that one doctor catered to a population of nearly 30,000 people. Posts of specialist doctors were vacant in 46% of rural hospitals and 30% of sub-district hospitals. For instance, 81% posts for psychiatrists, 63% posts for surgeons, 47% posts for anaesthetists, 26% posts for gynaecologists, 23% posts for paediatricians and 47% posts for dentists were lying vacant in rural hospitals.

“Non-covid patients have suffered tremendously during the pandemic,” said health activist Girish Bhave of JAA. “The severe lack of manpower and the overall under-resourced healthcare facilities made the situation worse, and the infrastructure fell severely short,” said Bhave. He cited the example of Kerala which had 1.1 beds per 1,000 population while Maharashtra had only 0.4 beds per 1,000.

JAA member Dr Madhavi Agashe said that children’s programmes also took a severe hit as manpower was diverted into Covid care.

Based on their findings, the JAA activists have recommended regularising contractual posts in health care, increasing the number of sub-centres, PHCs and rural hospitals, increasing the bed strength to two beds per 1,000 population and doubling the public health budget and spending. The activists also said that the Maharashtra government should resist any move to privatise public health facilities.

A senior doctor attached to the Indian Medical Council said that doctors avoid serving in rural areas due to lack of infrastructure in the government facilities. “If there is no equipment, no operation theatre or other important things in the hospital, what can a doctor do? Specialists require a certain set up to practice and that is absent in rural facilities,” he said.

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