Karnataka: Testing worries as PHCs become vaccination sites | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Primary health centres (PHCs), where Covid-19 tests are conducted, have also been chosen as vaccination session sites in Karnataka. Experts say it will be challenging for PHCs to serve dual roles and suggest that alternative arrangements should be made to ensure neither of the services suffers.
Officials got an early glimpse of the problems that could occur on Saturday, when residents seeking Covid-19 tests showed up at the Vidyapeeta PHC in Bengaluru South. The residents had to turn back as a vaccination dry run was underway at the centre.
Mohan Babu, a resident of NR Colony, went there with his two daughters, aged 15 and 12 years. The two girls needed a Covid negative certificate to attend school. “The PHC staff said they were busy, so Covid-19 tests could not be done. We will have to find another PHC because we can’t afford tests at a private hospital or lab,” Babu said.
The Vidyapeeta PHC had set up a counter for testing outside, but there was no one to man it. Normally, around 50 people seek help at the centre daily. Half of them want a Covid-19 test.
A member of the state technical advisory committee on Covid-19, who visited another PHC where a vaccination drill was conducted, said that officials must ensure that testing didn’t suffer once the actual inoculation programme began. “Alternative arrangements should be made for people who need a test. Testing facilities can be created outside PHCs or mobile teams can be stationed nearby,” he said.
At the Kamakshipalya PHC, testing work proceeded as usual amid the dry run. “We collected samples, but ideally, testing and vaccination processes should not be conducted on the same premises. People waiting to get vaccinated should be protected from any potential exposure to a symptomatic person,” said a senior BBMP health officer.
The problem does not arise in semi-urban and rural areas, according to Bengaluru Urban district health officer Dr Srinivasa SG. “In our limits, PHCs are spread across an area of nearly half an acre. Testing is done at a separate counter outside the centres. Even during the dry run, this was followed,” he said.
The state government has been suggested to organise Covid-19 vaccination at alternative sites, so regular functioning of PHCs doesn’t get affected.
Dr Shivakumar M, health officer, BBMP-South, said that Saturday’s drill helped officials understand what was feasible and what needed to change. “Not just testing, we could also not attend to regular PHC work amid the dry run. It has been discussed and suggested that Covid-19 vaccination should be shifted to nearby schools and colleges, where polling booths are set up during various elections,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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