New Delhi (NVI): The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, which came out with its report on the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, has recommended that the whole population should be vaccinated while suggesting that the cost of the vaccine should be subsidised for weaker sections of the society.
The first of its kind report on government’s handling of the pandemic, was submitted by Chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on health, Ram Gopal Yadav, to Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.
The report suggested that cold-storage system across the country should be upgraded as many Covid vaccines would require freezing temperatures. The committee further recommended that vaccines should be administered as per the WHO’s strategic allocation approach or a multi-tiered risk-based approach.
The report also pointed out several drawbacks in the government’s handling of the Covid-19 situation since the outbreak of the pandemic. The Committee observed that the total number of government hospital beds were inadequate to deal with the rise in cases of COVID-19. It also noted an underutilisation of beds provided by the Ministry of Railways. For example, 813 railway coaches with 12,472 beds were converted into COVID care centres and only 454 COVID-19 patients were admitted in these centres.
It also noted that the closure of out-patient departments (OPDs) in government hospitals impacted the delivery of care to non-COVID patients, especially sexual and reproductive care services. It recommended monitoring of empanelled hospitals to ensure that treatment for non-COVID illnesses is not denied.
Apart from that, a shortage of healthcare workers due to vacancies in state-run hospitals was also pointed out. The report suggested that health workers from districts with lower case burden may be redirected to districts with a higher burden of COVID-19 cases.
It also suggested that AYUSH doctors may provide assistance in areas with a shortage of allopathic doctors or COVID-19 hospitals and centres. It recommended that standard operating procedures for deployment of trained AYUSH manpower to states should be prepared.