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Hospitals face bed shortage

With surge in COVID-19 infections, several cities in the country could be running short of critical health infrastructure and hospital beds is one of them.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 globally prompted policymakers to evaluate the capacity of healthcare infrastructure. Many hard-hit localities witnessed a large influx of severe cases that strained existing hospitals. As COVID-19 spread in India, it became essential to evaluate the country’s capacity to treat severe cases.

India is estimated to have 1.9 million hospital beds, of that, 1.2 million are in the private hospitals and 0.7 million in the government hospitals. There are 0.95 million ICU beds, of which 0.59 million are in the private hospitals and remaining 0.36 million in the government. However, most hospital beds are concentrated in the seven states – Uttar Pradesh (14.8%), Karnataka (13.8%), Maharashtra (12.2%), Tamil Nadu (8.1%), West Bengal (5.9%), Telangana (5.2%) and Kerala (5.2%). Conversely, Bihar, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh are estimated to have the fewest beds per population, with 26, 55, and 56 beds per 100,00 population respectively.

The 1383 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, 3107 dedicated COVID-19 healthcare centers, and 10382 COVID-19 care centers, together had 46673 ICU beds. As COVID-19 infections surged, the number of dedicated isolation beds in the country had increased 36.3 times since March 2020 while the number of dedicated ICU beds had increased 24.6 times.

The outbreak of the pandemic resulted in the construction of new hospitals to treat patients infected by the novel coronavirus. For instance, In New Delhi, the world’s largest COVID-19 care facility, Sardar Patel’s COVID Care Centre and Hospital (SPCCCH), was built. It formally started taking patients from July 5. The 10,000-bed facility was created by the South Delhi District Administration with support from the Union ministry of Home Affairs in ten days. In addition, the total number of beds for COVID-19 patients in Delhi were increased from 16,172 to 18,252 between November 9 and 26. The government added 211 ICU beds with ventilators, taking the total number of such beds from 1264 to 1475 during the same period.

However, horror stories continue to pour in from various parts of the country as to how COVID-19 patients are being turned away as the hospitals do not have adequate number of beds.

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