Why Bengaluru’s famed health infrastructure is crumbling | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: It was hailed as the emerging global hub for healthcare innovations and projected as the best destination for medical tourism. But the stark reality is that Bengaluru’s healthcare system is currently crumbling in the Covid-19 second wave.
At least 500-600 persons search desperately for ICU beds every day, furnaces in crematoria are on the brink of melting, doctors and data operators are exhausted and people have been reduced to psychological wrecks.

Though the state government on Monday announced a fortnight’s lockdown to stall the total collapse of medical infrastructure, the big question is: How did Bengaluru reach this breaking point?
“Bengaluru has been felled by complacency, commission and callousness. The political heads chose to ignore warnings about the second wave and preferred to sit tight in donothing mode. The bureaucrats got busy with projects and tenders, while people dumped Covid protocols following a false sense of normalcy,” admitted a senior IAS officer.
Experts: Govt faltered more than once in Covid management
Chief minister BS Yediyurappa and his team have faltered more than once. They had three IAS officers to helm BBMP through one pandemic year, while the health commissioner and officer in charge of drug procurement, too, were replaced. This, when continuity should have been ensured.

Health experts, too, are baffled by the government’s response. Though BBMP is supposed to be the nerve centre when it comes to Covid management in the city, there is currently not a single IAS officer who is a doctor. Most politicians and bureaucrats had assumed that herd immunity had been achieved after the daily caseload started decreasing in November.
The focus shifted from Covid to non-Covid projects. “Tenders pertaining to non-Covid issues were floated . No one thought of adding more hospital beds or procuring ventilators,” said a BBMP official. The government attributed the surge to laxity on the part of people.
Chinks in govt functioning

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Inefficient bed management: Though the government maintained it did not anticipate such a massive surge, it failed to increase number of ICU beds and ventilators. While the government dashboard says beds are available, reality is that panic-stricken patients, with dropping oxygen levels, are rushing from one hospital to another.
Coordination with pvt hospitals: The government did not take private hospitals into confidence when the second wave was imminent. It did not clear arrears of around Rs 160 crore payable to private hospitals for treatment rendered till November.
Poor contact tracing and tele-consultation: Though BBMP claims to be tracing contacts of Covid patients, the reality is different.
Delayed test results: Those with Covid symptoms do not get results within 24 hours though BBMP claims to be working towards it. A person gets results after three days and, by then, he would have spread the infection. BBMP has taken action against five testing labs for uploading results on ICMR portal but testing personnel say they’re overloaded with work.

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Sagar Biswas

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