Hospitals in India are being stretched thin as COVID cases sharply soar
Mumbai, the economic powerhouse of India is crumbling under the weight of the pandemic as it records over 31,000 cases which majorly accounts for more than a fifth of corona virus infections in the country. The once bustling city has been turned into a ghost town as restrictions are unrelenting than ever.
The health crisis exposed vulnerabilities in their health sector as its medical infrastructure is on the edge of a cliff. As death tolls escalates, most of the doctors have declared the city a battlefield as their hospitals are overburdened, with many fearing the worst to hit.
“It’s a war zone. There are two to three patients per bed, some on the floor, and some in corridors. We don’t have enough oxygen ports. So even though some patients need it, they can’t be given oxygen”. Other doctors have also confirmed this assertion, as they are splitting one oxygen tank between two or three patients, with spacing between beds drastically reduced to accommodate more beds”.
Other health practitioners have registered their plight over the doctor to patient deficit and PPE’s which are crucial to the fight against the virus. To this, the President of the Indian Medical Association Dr. Avinash Bhondwe said “Now around 3,000 independent doctors have signed up so far to help out. But, we need PPE from standardized providers at standardized rates, which have not yet been made available”.
According to a WHO report, one of the reasons for the overwhelming scale and proportion of infections is its population density which is pegged the second highest in the world.
“Help is urgently needed. We are working without any days off, or anytime to quarantine ourselves”, a Sion hospital doctor iterated.
Despite having one of the finest health facilities and doctors, they have rather sadly acknowledged that “they are not prepared for the pandemic”. Currently Mumbai boasts of 70 public hospitals with a 20,700 capacity and 1,500 private facilities with 20,000 beds which are still insufficient as it lags behind in the one bed per 500 people recommendation from the World Health Organization.
Although field hospitals with a 4,000 capacity are being built in many parts of the city, the imminent threat of the monsoon which comes with the risk of other illnesses such as malaria, typhoid and gastric infections looms.