Open Forum

Let’s Connect to help Bihar win Corona battle

By Gyanendra Keshri

For those who have watched 2011 Hollywood thriller film ‘Contagion’ the current Coronavirus Pandemic seems like the recast of the sequence in the real life. In the film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, a bat drops a piece of a fruit, which is eaten by a pig. That pig is then slaughtered for consumption, passing on a virus to humans and thus leading to a huge harm to human lives and the economy. Similar devastation seems to be panning out in the real life today.

Corona Pandemic is among the biggest crises the world has ever faced. It has directly or indirectly hit the lives of almost all the nearly 780 crore people living on this planet. The economies of advanced countries, including the United States, Japan and Europe, are crumbling due to this pandemic.

The challenges from this pandemic for Bihar is enormous. One relief so far is that the number of officially confirmed infected people is low. But there are two major issues with the data that we have got so far. The first, are the data on infected people correct? Answer lies in the way testing is being done. The first positive COVID case in the state is about a 38-year old man, a native of Munger, who had travel history to Qatar. The unfortunate thing about this case is that the lab report came after the death of the victim. Very few tests are done in the state. Time lag is another problem.  This is because of the lack of testing facilities. Earlier there was no testing lab. The sample had to be sent to a lab in Kolkata. Now there is just one sample testing centre for 12 crore people. So the testing facilities have to be enhanced and improved. The more and more people must be tested in time in order to curb the community spread.

If, God forbid, infection spreads in the community the loss would be devastating as the public health infrastructure is grossly inadequate and in a very bad shape. There are only 100 ventilators in the state of 12 crore people. Bihar has the least number of hospital beds per patient and the doctor-patient ratio is also the lowest in India. On an average one government allopathic doctor has to serve 43,788 people. There is just 0.11 beds available for per 1000 population in the state. This means per government hospital bed caters to more than 9000 people. The availability of government hospital beds in Bihar is abysmally low. The epidemic like coronavirus can very quickly complicate the problem. An estimated 5-10 per cent of the total Coronavirus affected patients would require critical care in the form of ventilator support. Clearly, we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with any epidemic like situation.

The situation is gloomy and scary. Having said that it’s imperative for us to do our best to better equip us to deal with the possible situation. The best hope lies with the behavioural interventions like social distancing and hand hygiene.

It’s time to work on both front in a war like situation. The first there has to be an aggressive campaign to limit the spread of the virus through preventive measures like social distancing and hand hygiene. At the same time there is need to ramp up the health infrastructure. There have been a number of unfortunate incidents of doctors and other medical staffs refusing to attend Corona suspect patients. Though creating new infrastructure and human resource would take time, it is imperative that the existing infrastructure be ramped up and doctors and other medical staffs be motivated and equipped with protective equipment and training to deal with the worst possible scenario.

BiharConnect has been actively involved in spreading awareness at the grassroots level about social distancing and hand hygiene. But that’s not enough. There has been heart-wrenching scenes of poor Bihari migrant workers leaving on foot from Delhi to go back home in a bid to unite with their families in this time of crisis. We request and invite all stakeholders to Connect and contribute their bit in helping Bihar and Bihari people cope with this crisis. I hope that together we will come out of this crisis without being hurt much!

(Gyanendra Keshri is Founder and Chief Executive, BiharConnect)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of BiharConnect and BiharConnect does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. 

Gyanendra Kumar Keshri

Gyanendra Kumar Keshri is consulting editor of BiharConnect. He has nearly 20 years of experience in journalism, having worked for diverse media streams in India and abroad.

Related Articles

Back to top button