In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, India’s routine health services have been disrupted. The scale is even larger than what was estimated, and this could have serious long-term implications.
The National Health Mission’s Health Management Information System (NHM-HMIS) tracks data from over 2,00,000 medical facilities across the country. An official data released recently indicates a worrisome decline in the access to healthcare from the time India went into lockdown in March up to June.
There has been a fall in immunizations, maternal health processes and treatments of ailments such as cancer. In fact, the number of fully immunised children reduced by 15 lakhs in this period of 3 months, as compared to last year.
Other highlights of the data are as follows:
With respect to women:
- In March and April’2020, fewer child-bearing women went for the regular health check-ups and tests that are essential for the health of both, the mother and child.
- The total number of institutional deliveries fell by 5,80,000 from January to April. This means that more women were forced to deliver at home.
- The number of beneficiaries under Janani Swasthya Suraksha Yojana [Mother’s Health Protection Programme] has also declined to more than half of its January level.
With respect to vaccination:
- 1 million fewer children, when compared to January, got the vaccine for Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG)- which is for the prevention of severe tuberculosis.
- The routine vaccination for children against diseases like diphtheria, measles, tetanus and polio have also gotten hampered, triggering serious concerns.
India’s over the years progress, on various health goals, including schemes to bring down infant & maternal mortality rates and those to combat communicable and non-communicable disease has suffered a massive set back.
With respect to allopathic outpatient attendance:
- The outpatient visits declined by 69 million when compared to January, in April. This is inclusive of patients with serious ailments like cancer and acute heart diseases.
- According to experts, this is indicative of the fact that when the patients re-visit they are going to have an unmanaged form of the disease.
- There was also a decline of 45% in patients receiving treatments for TB, a 60% decline in men being screened for HIV in June 2020.
- The number of surgeries done, also fell by over half in June when compared to January.
- A 60% decline was also witnessed for the inpatient treatment of communicable diseases.
- Cardiac emergencies, accident and trauma cases halved in this period.
Experts are of an opinion that every dose of vaccine missed during this crisis has a potential chance of being TB or a case of measles in the future. They think that India’s response to Covid-19 crisis needs reconsideration.
Over to you.
Millions of pregnant women and children missed getting folic acid and iron supplements, in order to outfit anaemia. Immunization programs were obstructed, exposing children and young infants at risk of developing diseases. More people couldn’t screen against any potential chance of having an ailment, those who were already suffering, couldn’t get diagnosed further. The outbreak of coronavirus in itself is a mammoth challenge against the health care facility and authorities of India. Tackling and restoring delayed and denied regular health care services, though is the need of the hour, seems far-fetched.