High Mortality A Concern

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Government and IMA should join hands to provide better treatment for COVID patients

CONCERNS have been raised over the rising number of deaths due to COVID in the state and the failure of the authorities to arrest the mortality. The state has witnessed 66 deaths due to COVID so far, a number that is high for a small state with a population of 1.5 million. The government authorities have attributed most of the deaths to comorbidities among the victims. Though the government has deployed doctors from different specialties at the Employees State Insurance hospital at Margao which has been turned into a special COVID care centre, its staffing pattern was found to be inadequate from the beginning. The government took a long time to realise they needed specialists for the special COVID hospital. The government has named Dr Uday Kakodkar, a senior consultant in the chest and pulmonary diseases department of the Goa Medical College and Hospital, as the administrator of the COVID hospital. Some other changes have been made in the protocol to manage the patients admitted to the hospital to ensure that they get better treatment and mortality is reduced. 

The state unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which has been playing the role of an advisor since the pandemic gripped the state, has raised grave concerns over the increase in the number of COVID related deaths. They do not attribute it to comorbidity as the government does. They attribute it to lack of specialists at the COVID care hospital and to non-availability of medical imaging procedures such as CT and MRI scan there. The government denies the IMA charge, harping on their tune that mortality was due to comorbidities. This is not the time to play the type of verbal tennis politicians play. The government must take every observation seriously and work to make amendments. The IMA has suggested that the government establish a 250-bed COVID hospital in the GMC complex as it will help better management of patients. Starting COVID care in the GMC complex will not create logistic problems, says the IMA, nor will it split the workforce. There are contrary views in the medical fraternity that since patients requiring treatment for various ailments visit the GMC, a COVID hospital there might put them at risk of contracting the virus.

The government must consider different views to arrive at a decision. Deploying specialists in various disciplines for COVID care would only improve treatment, not make it worse. The government should get the IMA to identify specialists for deployment. Organizing imaging equipment at the COVID hospital would help specialists manage the conditions of patients better. The government should provide comprehensive care at the hospital to take care of the multiple problems in treatment of the patients who have comorbidities, rather than blaming comorbid patients for dying of their own diseases. And the government must make sure that every doctor and paramedical staff member at the COVID hospital gets adequate rest after eight days of work in accordance with the recent directions. Rotation of work would help doctors and paramedical staff to work dedicatedly without fatigue and hence allow less room for any neglect owing to overwork.

If the spike in coronavirus cases is not controlled  the situation could become unmanageable and the state could see many more deaths in view of the fact that there are a large number of people with comorbid conditions. Given the seriousness of the issue, it is necessary that the government and IMA join hands to fight the coronavirus pandemic, rather than finding faults with one another. It would be in the interest of coronavirus positive patients that private practitioners attached to the IMA volunteer to serve the patients in this hour of need and give COVID patients the benefit of greater medical expertise. The availability of experts especially from the private sector in various fields will help the panel formed for deployment of experts and other doctors at the COVID hospital and even shorten the duty periods, providing a big relief for those on COVID care as they can hope to get breaks at regular intervals which could lead to better efficiency. The arrangements should continue till the virus is banished or a vaccine is found.