NEW DELHI: The Covid-19 pandemic may peak in different parts of the country at different times, the 15th Finance Commission’s high-level panel on health has observed, suggesting pooling of resources between states to ensure better availability of health infrastructure in every state.
Dr Randeep Guleria, director of AIIMS and convenor of the high-level group (HLG), underlined the need for a mechanism so that health resources like manpower and equipment could be moved from one state to another as per need.
He said some states may be better equipped to manage increasing number of cases, while others could be challenged. Based on a statistical analysis, the panel said the path of the pandemic so far had also been different across states. Some like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal and Delhi continued to have a large number of active cases.
However, there was some moderation of the curve in states like Andhra, Punjab, Haryana and Kerala though spikes continue to happen. Overall, the average daily growth rate in infections from May 14 to May 18 considered by the study was estimated at around 5.1%.
Dr Balram Bhargava, director general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said the Covid-19 curve had not yet flattened but the impact had got distributed for a long haul of two to three years. Though he said deaths too had got distributed or spaced out, it is vital to keep mortality rate below 5%, cautioning that if the number of deaths per day rose to 1,000-2,000, it would become “alarming” for the government.
The ICMR also noted that the current strategy of ‘track, trace and treat’ was working well except in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The HLG, which met last month, made recommendations in three broad groups — very short-, short- and medium-term measures.
Very short-term measures included rapid testing for surveillance, containment, ensuring supply of cost-effective medicines, rural mobile health units and supply of equipment like ventilators, PPEs, masks, continuous oxygen supply, and ‘hop in hop off’ service for Covid-19 patients.
For short-term, the measures included ‘outbreak management plan’ for the health sector and financing the development of a vaccine. The panel suggested increasing investment on health, addressing shortfall in health workforce, exploring possibilities of covering the remaining 60% of the population under Ayushman Bharat and creation of an All India Medical Services on the pattern of Indian Civil Services as medium-term measures.