If comorbidity and not coronavirus is the main risk, let us fight it out
The rising mortality from the coronavirus in the state has raised concern among Goans. The state recorded 2,583 COVID-19 cases till July 13, of whom 18 lost their lives. While only two patients lost their lives between March and June, 16 patients have died this month. Health officials have attributed most of the deaths to comorbid conditions of the patients admitted to institutional care centres. The state officials argue that it is accepted worldwide by the medical experts that most people with pre-existing and underlying conditions could be at higher risk if they contract the coronavirus. However, as medicine is a science questions are naturally being raised why it is helpless in saving patients who suffer from other life-threatening diseases. What is the use of a science if it cannot deal with complexities?
According to various international studies, hypertension and cardiovascular disease are the most prevalent pre-existing conditions, followed by diabetes among people. A study conducted by the World Health Organisation found that mortality increases with age and the highest mortality was among people over 80 years of age and those with underlying health conditions. Most patients who succumbed to the dreaded virus have had diabetes, renal diseases and cardiovascular issues; some others were also afflicted by cancer. Since diabetes, heart problems and other comorbid conditions are prevalent among a substantial number of Goans among all sections of the Goan society it is necessary that more focus should be on prevention. With no antidote available as yet, the focus of the medical fraternity in this era of pandemic is on preventing older people from being afflicted by the dreaded virus.
The state health officials say one of the reasons for people with comorbid conditions such as diabetes, cardiac ailments and hypertension dying of coronavirus is that a number of them tend to be negligent in taking medicine or following up with medical advice. That is why their condition makes them susceptible to contracting the virus. According to a study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research, only about 1.8 percent of Indians regularly take their medicines and visit hospitals for a follow-up. Most people with medical conditions visit hospitals only when their health condition deteriorates and becomes unmanageable. Though there is no Goa-specific study, it is common for doctors to come across patients who are negligent in taking their courses regularly and coming for a follow-up. Some of them hide their medical conditions, which come to be known only when they are admitted for one cause or the other, which makes their cases difficult to be handled and their immunity is compromised.
However, it is wrong on the part of the government to go on harping that people who are dying of the coronavirus are mostly those who had comorbid conditions. Such repeated statements by ministers, bureaucrats and doctors indirectly constitute humiliation of the souls of the departed, and their families, because indirectly they are blaming the dead for their death. The statements are presented by public servants as a defence of their position that they are doing their job in an excellent manner and saving lives from the coronavirus, but “how could they help someone who was already suffering from a life threatening disease?” The government cannot hide the fact that though most of the victims of the virus are older people with comorbid conditions, patients in their thirties and forties have also died. Even if we were to say that older patients died in their ripe age, what defence does the government have for not saving younger patients? On their own part, Goans suffering from life threatening diseases must become more conscious of their health and take their medicines and visit their doctors for follow-up regularly. That is the first lesson to learn from the deaths that are occurring in the state. No matter what their age they should not be negligent and casual about their health conditions, for medical science does not have much with them as of now to help them if they contract the coronavirus. On their part, the state government must scale up testing to detect comorbid patients at the earliest.