The fatality rate due to Covid-19 in Bihar is a cause of worry, and many attribute it to the poor health infrastructure in the state and the ill-preparedness of the Bihar government during the second wave of the pandemic.
The state’s fatality rate in May (till May 21) is 180 per cent higher as compared to April this year. While the health department registered 989 deaths in April, from May 1 to May 21, as many as 1,779 fatalities have been reported from across the state. Alarmingly, many believe that the actual death toll is much higher than the official figures.
Some experts feel that had the Nitish Kumar-led state government focused more on infrastructure development and providing proper treatment facilities at the hospitals, both in rural and urban areas, Bihar would not have witnessed such a high death toll.
As per the data released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as many as 4,339 people have lost the battle against Covid-19 in Bihar till Saturday morning.
“We are witnessing that though the infection rate is decreasing in Bihar, the fatality rate is not coming down accordingly. One of the reasons for this is lack of health facilities and poor infrastructure. Moreover, the hospitals are facing a huge crunch of medical, paramedical and trained technical staff.
“While the state government has started roping in MBBS doctors, nurses, and ICU and ventilator operators in the middle of the pandemic, the new recruits are not showing much zeal, primarily due to the fear of the infection,” said Sunil Kumar, a prominent physician at a Patna-based private hospital.
Bihar has several hospitals in many districts, which have not been completed or are non-operational.
A sub-divisional hospital at Majhaul in Begusarai district has not been completed even after 15 years. The foundation stone for the hospital was laid in 2006.
Similarly, one sub-divisional hospital at Pupri village in Sitamarhi district is still not operation even 15 years after the construction work began in 2006.
A health centre at Inderwa village in Gopalganj’s Thawe block is closed due to unavailability of doctors and nurses. The villagers pointed out that though three ministers in the Nitish Kumar government represent Gopalganj district, they still go to neighbouring Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh for treatment.
Similarly, the Jannayak Karpoori Thakur Medical College in Madhepura was completed at a cost of Rs 800 crore, but it is only partially operational.
The state of affairs in Bihar could be gauged by the fact that 207 unused ventilators are kept in different Sadar hospitals in different districts. These ventilators were given by the Centre under the PM-CARES fund, and the state health department received them between July and September last year.
While the health department decided to allot these ventilators to the private hospitals of the state on April 30, the private facilities in as many as 13 districts did not apply for them.
According to the Health Minister of Bihar, Mangal Pandey, “We do not have trained technicians and anesthetists to operate the ventilators in the government hospitals. Hence, we decided to allot the same to the private hospitals. There were 140 vacancies for anesthetists but only 77 applicants were recruited. They have been deployed in different hospitals.”
As per the data, Begusarai has nine operational ventilators in the Sadar hospital, followed by Nawada (6), Purnea (5), Saharsa (5), Jahanabad (5), Siwan (4), Aurangabad (4), Sheikhpura (3) and Buxar(2).
It may be noted that JDU leader MewaLal Chaudhary had died due to severe corona infection in lungs, and he was not given timely ventilator support.
Another JDU MLA, Achmit Rishidev, lost his wife due to non-functional ventilators at the Sadar hospital in Araria district on Wednesday.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has pointed out the mismanagement in the hospitals on several platforms. He has also accused Nitish Kumar and the BJP of doing politics in the middle of a severe pandemic in Bihar.
“The Nitish Kumar government is neither helping patients, nor is it allowing us to help the people of Bihar. This can be attributed to negative politics. The government is unable to provide ambulances, medicines, life saving drugs and proper treatment to corona patients in Bihar,” Tejashwi said.
Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) leader Raju Danveer claimed: “Poor patients in several districts are transported on garbage carts as the state government is unable to provide ambulances.”