The big blame game is on
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The big blame game is on

May 10, 2021

But can one ramp up ICU beds from 10,000 to 10,00,000 in 10 months?

By Vishwaprasad Alva

Seventy-four years since independence and where are we in healthcare coverage? Not many of us know that in the last 7 decades the nation has built less than 20,000 ICU beds in the whole country. In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, India had less than 12,000 working ICU ventilators. 

In the last 74 years, the capacity built covers less than 30 percent of the Indian population with quality healthcare in both private and public sectors put together. In the last 74 years, we could establish only a few thousands of intensivists, cardiologists, oncosurgeons, neuro-surgeons, qualified technicians and critical medical skills. Is it humanly possible to set up 12,00,000 ICU beds in a few months to manage coronavirus?

During the first wave, we had the Niti Aayog, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of External Affairs leading the medical infrastructure programmes from the front on a war-footing. Having daily meetings with the Public Sector Units, Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), the private sector and delivered nothing short of a miracle. 

Did anyone compliment Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team then?

We had news channels, the opposition screaming nonstop about centralisation and to respect the federal structure, health being a State subject. As the first wave showed signs of waning, the Centre wound up the Task Force, empowered the States and kept the States engaged in regular discussions, cleared infrastructure projects with funding and repeatedly cautioned about the second wave.

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Yet we were caught unprepared by the second wave.

Now the big blame game is on.  When States took control and failed, it is still the Centre that is at fault. How just is this? There is a limit to what the PM’s chair can do whoever occupies it, Modi or Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee or the Yadavs, Deve Gowdas or the Thackerays,  Stalins, Lenins or the CPM, Naidus, Reddys or the Kejriwals.

For the 1,000 percent growth to happen in the healthcare sector in a few months we need a sustainable Return of Invest ment (ROI) for private hospitals and we need large funds and staff for the Government to set up hospitals. No Government can train and add lakhs of doctors in months. 

Also, private hospitals will not put up large projects just in anticipation of the pandemic.

For a nation that doesn’t like to pay taxes, for people who will buy things without bills to avoid GST, for businessmen who invent all tricks to fool the system, for people who trade outside the banking system to avoid Income Tax and for the nation that runs on a parallel black economy, it’s a tough or a rather daunting task to accomplish. 

Politicians in most States and in the Government of Karnataka in particular were busy fighting for Ministries, fighting for positions all through the year and had no time for governance. Now the PM has to take the responsibility for the incompetence and the never-ending greed of this bunch of corrupt people in own party.

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 Politicians did nothing except visit Government Hospitals, inaugurate the non-existing equipment, pose for photos and randomly abuse and shout at the doctors for cheap publicity without realising that they are primarily responsible to equip the hospitals. The doctor’s job is to practice medicine.

I just don’t understand why the Government is summoning qualified doctors to non-stop meetings every other day while they can do best in taking care of patients.

Let’s stop the blame game. The best we can do now as individuals, local bodies, communities, Mutts, Seers, Churches, Madrasas, religious and caste associations, corporates and businesses is to spread awareness, help prevent the spread within our own communities and neighbourhood,  treat people at early stage and avoid clogging of hospitals with untreated and serious cases. It’s time for introspection and serving our surroundings, not politicking.

[The author is Founder and Managing Director, Skanray Technologies, Mysuru]

7 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The big blame game is on”

  1. H says:

    Agree completely a very accurate description of the actual state of affairs.

  2. Ravi says:

    Another Bhakth Propaganda rant!!!

  3. Govind Pai says:

    The usual smorgasbord of tired arguments attempting to protect Modi from criticism and to deflect blame to everyone else.

    True, there may be only 12000 ICU beds. How many of those, if any, has Modi added from 2014-2020? How many did Modi add in Gujarat from 2000 to 2014?

    Has he increased the health care budget from its measly levels in that time? Even after the covid crisis hit in 2020, he has only played smoke and mirrors and not really increased health spending in spite of the imminent disaster staring us in the face.

    Has he shown any leadership since the crisis hit us in 2020? He declared a draconian lockdown without consultation with experts, created a catastrophe for millions without providing them succour and then, in an arrogant display of indian exceptionalism, declared victory on the virus and started exporting our scant vaccine supply without first vaccinating his own people. What a vishwaguru!

    He has ignored all warnings about a second wave, toppled his own Chief minister in Uttarakhand because the CM wished to enforce some covid protocols during the Kumbh, which was a disaster waiting to happen.

    For narrow political expediency he had the election campaigns extended rather than truncated, addressed huge unmasked rallies while expressing satisfaction with the size of the crowds, while continuing to pontificate on his ‘Mann ki baath’ on masks and social distancing.

    The vaccine saga is another example of how he has been caught flat footed. No purchases or orders were given, except for trivial numbers of doses (11 million doses of Covishield and 5.5 million of Covaxin in January 2021 for a nation of 1.5 billion! In contrast, the US placed orders for 400 million vaccine doses by August 2020 for a nation of 330 million people!) until the end of April, after the disaster had already struck. Meanwhile, his health minister touted fake cures like Coronil.

    The oxygen fiasco is another himalayan failure of any vision or planning.

    As for his bureaucrats, he has made sure that only yes men surround him. Is it any wonder that there are no competent ones now to steer the ship through these choppy waters?

    As the Lancet rightly pointed out, this is a Modi-made disaster that can be traced to one man’s sense of hubris. And they respond to the crisis, not by doing something about it, but by trying to suppress criticism and spinning facts or hiding them to attempt to create an alternate reality.

    Sickening! And the sad thing is they have corrupted so many of our institutions in that attempt.

  4. SVD says:

    Fully agree with you.
    Our health spend as a percentage of GDP is abysmally low. It always has been and it has dipped even further, afaik, during Modi’s term.
    After massively mishandling the vaccination programme, Modi has now shrugged off all responsibility totally, leaving it to each state to negotiate prices and place orders directly from the vaccine manufacturers abroad. Is there any other country where the PM has done this?
    The cost of vaccinating the entire Indian population at Rs 150 per dose is just 35000 crores. Why is the PMCares amount not being used for this purpose? The govt can hardly plead lack of funds considering the fact that 20000 crores is being spent for the Central Vista project.

  5. Ravi says:

    Thank god! Everybody in Indian and foreign media, and our opposition parties tried their best to bring down Modi and they could not! Now let us hope we will not elect corrupt Modi and Bring Congress to power so that Rahul Gandhi can be the our PM for the next 30 years We have so many talented people like Rahul, Priyanka, Kanhiya kumar, Robert Vadra,Lalu Prasad yadav, farooq Abdulla ! They are all idle for 6 years!

  6. Gita Shenoy says:

    Yes, agree with both of the above. A nation in crisis and great suffering is straddled with an arrogant, inept leadership devoid of even a aota of caring for the people who have voted them in .Even now the emphasis is on “rebuilding image’ and “spreading positivity’. For heavens sake! People have been battered, killed, suffocated, dying and cremated in the most undignified manner, driven further into unemployment and abject poverty, our rural areas devoid of even basic facilities, our urban poor robbed of livelihoods and left to fend for themselves…health infrastructure collapsing, its Frontliners flogged and collapsing with the strain of holding it together to provide some succour to the suffering.

    The Govt is sitting on stupendous wealth, held opaquely, it has the richest corporations in its hands to milk, it has complete power and authority, having hollowed out all our best institutions, it has incredible talent and manpower at its disposal.
    Yet, what it continues to do is harp on the past, play its power games, sink money into empty, grandiose schemes that help no one, steadfastly reject science, efficient planning and management.
    It continues to focus on its image and brand while the nation convulses and crumbles.

  7. Ashok says:

    can any of you send me a copy of Congress tool kit? I want to start abusing Modi and don’t know where to start!

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