By Dheeraj Sinha*
Patna: Bihar’s health system has crumbled and the state seems to be in dire straits in the wake of the challenge posed by coronavirus pandemic. Covid patients are just unable to get beds in hospitals and are left in the lurch. As on July 23, Bihar has only 6,434 oxygen supported beds and 570 ICU beds in the entire state. In comparison, UP had 9,257 oxygen supported beds and 2,025 ICU beds, while the corresponding figure for Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh was 3,375 and 494 and 6,200 and 1,650 respectively.
Even those who are lucky to get admitted to hospitals are suffering due to negligence. In view of gravity of the situation, the Centre has sanctioned 750 oxygen concentrators and the state has already received 430 concentrators. With 750 oxygen concentration, 1500 beds could be upgraded to oxygen-fitted beds.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked health department to conduct 20,000 Covid tests daily but the target appears too ambitious in view of decrepit health infrastructure. Bihar has also acute shortage of doctors. According to WHO, there should be one doctor for 1,000 people but in Bihar, one allopathic doctor serves 43,788 people.
The state is also short of 131 primary health centres, 1,210 sub-centres and 289 community health centres.
Even the involvement of private hospitals in the fight against Covid-19 is not going to serve much purpose. Private hospitals in the state capital are demanding hefty money, ranging between Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh from a corona patient as security money.
After a corona patient is admitted to the hospital, one has to spend anything between Rs 15,000 to Rs 50,000 per day on the treatment. So total treatment cost at a private hospital could range from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
The Patna district administration has released the list of 15 private hospitals and beds in four hospitals are already reportedly full. The state government has now asked the district administration to fix the treatment cost but it is yet to be decided.
*The writer is a senior journalist