With the focus of the healthcare system on those affected by COVID-19, health issues of other patients are being ignored.
By Batchu Rushali
The pandemic has led to a drastic shift of medical attention towards COVID-19 patients leading to lack of medical facilities for other health issues like hypertension, diabetes, lung and heart illnesses.
Pratima Mallik, a 63-year-old heart patient, has to go for her regular treatment once in two or three months but she couldn’t get the appointment of the doctor due to the lockdown.
Saroj Patro, a resident of Harlur in Bangalore, has been suffering from toothache for a month or more now and initially he used to visit the dentist in Outer Ring Road. But since the lockdown treatment has been paused because the clinic has been shut.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare addressed the nation regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 but also ensured that the nation won’t compromise on the essential health care services while treating the COVID-19 patients. Despite the government’s assurance, several hospitals and doctors pan India tend to neglect their duty and are reluctant to treat the patients some way or the other.
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Satyendranath Dutta, a resident of Kolkata is in his mid-70s goes to a hospital in College street of Kolkata, has to undergo dialysis on every alternate day. He said that since the lockdown, his appointments were rescheduled twice and later his timings were changed. In fact, the duration of his appointments has been reduced from four hours to three hours now. He added, “I am not the only one whose durations have been reduced. All the patients have shorter duration now because the doctors have to attend the COVID-19 patients.”
Dr Shravan Chenji, a cardiovascular health officer from Hyderabad said, “Currently the major issue is that non-communicable diseases are getting neglected. Patients of chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes are affected because of the lockdown. It is not just limited to the rural areas but also the urban settings too.”
He added, “Ideally they have to visit the doctor once in a month to get their sugar level and blood pressure checked and based on that the doctors can either increase the doses or ask them to continue with the same treatment for them. Along with this, the patients fail to get proper transportation to visit the doctors. Due to this, some of the patients tend to directly take medicines from the pharmacies without any consultation or any local practitioner without getting checked properly which can cause further complications.”
Dr Rangaswamy HV, deputy director of non-communicable diseases under the Department of Health and Family Welfare said, “For non-communicable diseases and elderly care, we have given directions not to interrupt the services. That’s why the state is coming up with several innovative ways to treat the patients and the ASHA workers or health workers are trying to reach out to the needed.”
Dr Chenji asserted, “The lockdown has just been for a period of one month and significantly the death rate of the country won’t be affected in such a short span of time.”
Graphic Credit: Ritam Chatterjee