As Madhya Pradesh battles rising number of COVID-19 cases, burdening its health infrastructure, government data showed the state has just one ventilator, a key equipment to treat serious patients, for every 75,000 people and one intensive care unit (ICU) bed for every 47,000.
However, to the satisfaction of authorities, the availability of hydroxychloroquine, a common anti-malaria drug seen as potential cure for COVID-19, is around 30 tablets per person, according to an analysis of state government data. Madhya Pradesh has so far registered 259 coronavirus positive cases and 16 fatalities.
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Indore leads the tally with 235 COVID-19 cases followed by Bhopal, which has 98 patients of the infection which has now spread to 20 districts of the state.
The state, having a population of over 7.5 crore, has a total of 993 ventilators and 1,598 ICU beds in government and private hospitals put together together (as on March 9, 2020), according to the data. Overall, 29,914 beds, including 9,492 in isolation wards, are available in states hospitals, the data said.
If compared to total population, Madhya Pradesh has just one ventilator (whose count now stands at 993) for about every 75,000 people and one ICU bed for every 47,000, it showed.
Asked about the low ratio of ventilators and ICU beds vis-a-vis population, Principal Secretary (Medical Education) Sanjay Shukla told PTI that efforts are being made to improve overall medical facilities and procure necessary healthcare equipment in the state.
The state government has placed orders to procure 200 ventilators but as everybody knows that manufacturers of life- saving equipment are overburdened these days so it may take time to receive supply, Shukla said. He said there is no shortage of funds. Development of healthcare infrastructure needs time.
We also need expertise to operate these ventilators. Funds are available. "We are making all-round efforts to improve medical facilities in the state to deal with the COVID-19 menace, said the Principal Secretary. Shukla said private hospitals are also arranging additional ventilators to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
The state has 29,380 Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits and 1.50 lakh N95 masks, two important protective gears required for healthcare workers who are on the frontline of anti-coronavirus fight, he said.
Meanwhile, health commissioner Faiz Ahmed Kidwai has called for a rational use of PPE kits, which healthcare workers and those deployed at quarantine centres, hospitals and laboratories need the most at this crucial time. On the other hand, the state has about 24.25 lakh tablets of hydroxychloroquine, the data showed.
The drug is used to prevent and treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments. It is seen as offering a viable therapeutic solution to coronavirus.
The virus sneaked in Madhya Pradesh on March 20 when four people, including two women with foreign travel history, tested positive for COVID-19 in Jabalpur city. Of them, three have recovered and returned home.
Some top officials of the health department, including two IAS officers, who attended meetings chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, have also tested positive for COVID-19 in Bhopal. In Bhopal, 50 health workers, including doctors, and 12 police personnel have been found to be infected with the viral disease.
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