India Coronavirus Dispatch: Pvt hospitals continue to flout charging norms

Infections are very much possible despite much of the population donning masks in public
Anti-trafficking units: Amid the Covid-induced lockdowns, the Home Ministry had sent an advisory to all states laying down several markers to combat human trafficking. The advisory warned the financial distress caused by the pandemic may lead to an increase in human trafficking. Experts had warned that once normal manufacturing activity resumes, factory owners will look to make up for their financial losses by employing cheap labour, the easiest target of which are children. A petition filed with the govt had further warned that Covid would make the lives of poor children tougher leading to a spike in trafficking. However, key states such as Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are yet to set up anti-trafficking units as recommended by the MHA. Six states have not set up a single anti-trafficking unit since March when the lockdown was first imposed. Read more here

MAMC doctors worries: In Delhi’s MAMC, which has been converted into a Covid facility, doctors have flagged the disruption in clinical activities. In a letter sent to authorities, including CM Kejriwal, a resident doctors’ association has has highlighted how medical students have not been able to complete their training for clinical activities, which is hampering their academic skills. Doctors have said that for the past 6 months, academic activities have come to a standstill which will impact the careers of doctors heading out to the field. Doctors have now requested top officials to take urgent steps to reinstate clinical education for medical students. Read more here

Mumbai hospital violates guidelines: In Mumbai, a private hospital charged Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 per day for oxygen from a 72-year-old patient. This was a violation of norms and continued for 3 days. More worryingly, the hospital had been served a notice to stop admitting Covid patients after it was previously found overcharging patients. It has been admitting new patients without even informing concerned authorities. In a notification by the Maharashtra government, hospitals were asked to refrain from charging separately for oxygen. Instead, the cost of ICU beds or ventilators has to include the oxygen charges. Hospitals, however, continue to charge for ICU beds and oxygen supply separately. This is in addition to smaller nursing homes in the state charging for bio-medical waste and PPE which makes the treatment unaffordable. Read more here


Vaccinating all Indians: Dr Gagandeep Kang, a medical expert, says the government’s timeline for Covid vaccine is ‘optimistic’ but possible only if the necessary funding and logistics for supply and storage are in place. She further says that mass immunisation will take at least 2-3 years. This is despite the govt having permitting for at-risk manufacture. Supply and storage logistics and identification of individuals for administering the vaccine will be the major challenges that India should gear itself up for, especially if the vaccine is not India-made. Further, she says availability and accessibility of the vaccine will be determined based on sufficient investment by the government. It’s important, therefore, that authorities prioritise public health care. What should also be kept in mind is that it’s not only vaccines that will require funds but hospitals and health workers, too. Read more here

Understanding Covid-19

Covid and flu myths: With flu season about to set in amid the pandemic, myths about both have begun floating around. Both, influenza and coronavirus, infections are very much possible despite much of the population donning masks in public. While wearing masks reduces the risk of catching the virus, it doesn’t make it zero. A more dangerous myth is that flu shots can leave you vulnerable to Covid. In fact, getting a flu shot might be beneficial as it will prevent Covid and influenza co-infections. While the symptoms of both infections do overlap, their effects — short and long term — on the body are vastly different. Distinguishing between the two is key to determining treatment and isolation strategies. Read more here

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