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Covid has been a blockage for routine health services | India News


There have been countless stories about the suffering of non-Covid patients across the country during and after the lockdown, and official data is now available to show the extent to which routine health services were unavailable and the scale of their impact.
The number of fully immunized children fell by more than 15 lakh in the three-month period from April to June compared to the same months last year. The number of institutional deliveries fell by around 13 lakh. The registered number of tuberculosis patients undergoing treatment fell to almost half what it was last year. Outpatients seeking cancer treatment decreased by more than 70%.
Hard-earned progress on several national health goals, including the program to reduce child and maternal mortality or those to treat tuberculosis, malaria, and noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, have suffered a severe reverse.
The data also suggest that the impact was greater in urban areas than in rural areas and in private health facilities more than in public ones. However, there is a caveat. The Health Management Information System (HMIS) of the Ministry of Health, launched in 2008, includes data entered daily from all government establishments from primary health centers. However, the data for private facilities is not that robust. “The main limitation of the HMIS data is that it cannot capture a lot of data from the private sector. But it is a pretty good indicator of government facility utilization and reflects usage trends quite accurately, ”explained Dr. T Sundararaman, former director of the National Health Systems Resource Center (NHSRC).
The data reveals that institutional deliveries fell 28% from 45 lakh in April-June last year to just 32 lakh this year, an indication of how many women may have been forced into home births, perhaps even without medical assistance.
There could also be a large number of unintended pregnancies in the next year, as there was a big drop in contraceptive-related services, including sterilizations after delivery, distribution of pills, and insertion of intrauterine devices (IUDs) afterward. of childbirth.
Overall, allopathic outpatient visits were nearly halved from over 38 crore in April-June last year to 19.5 crore this year. For example, outpatient ophthalmic consultations saw a large reduction from over 80 lakh to just 22 lakh. There were such abrupt interruptions in the outpatient treatment of the main Covid comorbidities: diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Without timely medical care, doctors hope that many of these conditions will have worsened, leading to increased morbidity and mortality in the coming months.
Hospital admissions were also cut in half for men and women, including for typhoid fever, respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD, tuberculosis, and vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue. There was also a 60% drop in the number of major and minor transactions.
The reduction in cardiac emergencies based primarily on anecdotal evidence from physicians so far is confirmed by HMIS data. Cardiac emergencies were cut in half in this period. So did the cases of accidents and trauma.
Most preventive health services, such as disease and deficiency screening programs in schools, were almost completely discontinued as schools and Anganwadis remained closed. Millions of pregnant women and schoolchildren did not receive iron and folic acid tablets intended to combat widespread anemia. Millions of new mothers and their babies did not get their right to medicine, diet, diagnostics and many other free services under the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSY).

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