In less than three days, the State government did a flip-flop on the move to bring Covid-19 treatment under Deen Dayal Swasthya Seva Yojana (DDSY) universal health insurance scheme holding it in abeyance. The ordinary citizens, more especially patients, who sought momentary comfort, were in for a rude shock to learn that nothing is going to change. The reversal of decision only goes to highlight how indecisive the government is in planning.
The DDSY cover would mean a paradigm shift, but the government has to bring private hospitals on board. It is baffling why the government is not engaging stakeholders in critical decisions like these. Understandably, the patient ratio could have shot up drastically with the insurance facility, given the insurance relief. What is not factored in are the logistical issues that would crop up and whether hospitals would be able to cope up with the additional pressure.
Currently, hospitals are running out of beds, and government hospitals are no exception. According to the CM, the wards at GMC are presently at 100 per cent capacity, while the other three Covid hospitals in South Goa are at 80 per cent occupancy. The private hospitals too, have limited beds. So, where do citizens go? Before extending medical cover, the government must expand hospital infrastructure otherwise we would have a situation where patients will have to make themselves comfortable on chairs, floors and nooks and corners of hospitals anxiously waiting for a bed. The 200-bed increase in capacity at the South Goa district hospital is a welcome move, but what stops the government from utilizing the two floors which are vacant? The proposed nursing college can come sometime later when Goa is through with Covid.
The only take-away for people, for now, is the home isolation monitoring kit which was launched at an event hosted at a five-star hotel in the capital city last week. The kit contains a digital thermometer, an oximeter, a hand sanitizer, N95 masks, gloves and prophylaxis, vitamin C and D tablets, Ivermectin, Doxycycline and Hydroxychloroquine tablets. All of these will come in handy for people under home isolation.
On the face of it, it looks like a strategic political exercise to silence a vocal opposition and comes against the backdrop of Aam Aadmi Party’s Oximeter campaign. What stopped the government from taking the initiative much earlier? It appears that political mileage is being drawn via these kits by prominently displaying photos of the chief minister and health minister. Humble gestures and public welfare measures don’t need such publicity stunts; actions speak louder than everything that is printed on these kits.
Now that the kits are launched, can the government ensure that the deserving home-isolated patients will get them? Or will this too turn into a scam? Lest we forget, people struggled to get daily essentials early into the pandemic while when the government went to town with its much-publicized food distribution scheme. We only hope that the home kits don’t go that way.