Wednesday , 12 August 2020
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Decentralise COVID Combat

Goa needs to nip the virus in the bud at small centres

The rising graph of coronavirus positive cases in the state has made the government seek help from the defence forces to deal with the crisis. This is for the time that the state authorities have taken help from the defence forces in fighting any epidemic or health emergency. Though the government has not come out with any justification for seeking the help of the defence forces, the action is obviously borne out of the situation which threatens to go out of hand if not arrested by quick action. The government seeking defence help shows that it foresees a disproportionate increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state and the lack of the government’s capability to deal with it. Though the role of the defence forces in fighting the virus has not been spelt out yet, it is expected that they would provide infrastructural, logistical and personnel support in fighting the dreaded virus that is not showing any signs of retreating.

After the first case of the coronavirus was detected in the state on March 26 the progress of the virus was slow; it took 97 days for the state to reach the one thousand mark; however the cases have more than doubled in the last 11 days and the state now has nearly 2,500 cases. The alarming rise in COVID-19 cases tells amply of the political leaders and bureaucrats leading the combat not being able to find the right way of fighting the virus. Rather than allowing the medical professionals to lead the fight against the virus, the battle is being managed by politicians and bureaucrats, who have been directing medical experts and doctors to adopt measures, rather than seeking and going by their expert advice.  The medical experts know best, and had the control been given in their hands, they would have definitely managed both the preventive and curative parts better.  The politicians have their own preferences and compulsions, and both the politicians and bureaucrats work with the objective of managing without much expenditure and without requiring to deploy more medical and paramedical staff. Their strategies also keep changing. And are the state authorities actually following the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Union Health Ministry in controlling the spread of the virus?

With more and more being afflicted by the disease and the deaths due to COVID-19, which reached 14 as on Sunday, also increasing in number, the state government has decided to dispense Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, the lifesaving drugs to patients recommended by the ICMR to help the recovery of patients, though belatedly. The Convalescent Plasma Therapy (CPT) for the treatment of critical COVID patients is also starting, which could give a new lease of life to critical patients. However, these therapies have not been proven to be very effective in fighting the coronavirus and results may vary from patient to patient. Besides, the medical professionals have to be cautious in administering the drugs as the Indian scientists who have conducted studies on these drugs have cautioned that the virus might evolve to develop resistance to Remdesivir. Experts in medicine are of the opinion that with no proven cure for COVID-19 available till date they would have to adopt experimenting measures by using recommended medicine available at hand in dealing with serious COVID cases.

Medical experts feel that the coronavirus situation could be turned around, provided the right approach was adopted in fighting the menace. They say the present epidemiological control strategy is flawed and want the government to set up temporary health care centres with adequate health care staff and facilities in areas where a few cases are detected so as to provide help within the area and prevent the spread of the virus. The shortage of doctors can be managed by roping in doctors from the Goa chapter of Indian Medical Association who have expressed a desire to help the government in controlling the virus. As the pandemic has taken serious proportions, the fight must be decentralised and scattered for effective control using a small number of medical and paramedical staff at village or ward level where a few cases crop up.

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