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PM Cares to fund two makeshift 500-bed COVID hospitals in Bihar

Two 500-bed makeshift hospitals for covid-19 patients are to be built in Bihar with money provided by the PM CARES trust fund.
In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said, “PM-CARES Fund Trust has decided to allocate funds for fight against COVID-19 by way of establishment of 500-bed COVID-19 Makeshift Hospitals at Patna & Muzaffarpur, Bihar by DRDO. This will go a long way in improving COVID care in Bihar.”

PM CARES stands for the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations. DRDO is the Defence Research and Development Organisation which built a 1,000-bed hospital in a record 12 days in New Delhi.

With a tally of 122,156 covid-19 cases and 610 deaths as of Monday, Bihar is headed for assembly elections amid the pandemic. The polls are expected to held around October or November.

Ahead of the elections, Bihar’s healthcare system is the subject of political debate as the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under chief minister Nitish Kumar is facing a tough challenge containing the pandemic. “The 500 bed hospital at Bihta, Patna will be inaugurated today and the 500 bed hospital at Muzaffarpur will be inaugurated very soon,” the PMO tweeted. “These hospitals have 125 ICU beds with ventilators and 375 normal beds each. Each bed also has oxygen supply. The doctors and paramedical staff will be provided by the Armed Forces Medical Services,” it added.

Taking note of the use of funds under the PM Cares Fund, Union minister for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan tweeted, “The central government is working closely with the state government to help the #COVID19 patients in Bihar by further bolstering COVID care.”

The PM CARES Fund was established on 27 March in the aftermath of the pandemic to mobilize resources and is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The other ex-officio members of the trust are the defence minister, the home minister and the finance minister.

As covid-19 cases continue to rise in India, having already crossed the 3 million-mark, the government has been looking at makeshift hospitals to deal with the health crisis. Health minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday inaugurated a 10-bed modern makeshift hospital in Ghaziabad.

Arup Mitra, a health economist and professor of economics at the Delhi University, said, “Makeshift hospitals in India may not be effective in providing proper health care facilities. They are more of a consolation than a solution. However, in the context of covid, it is very important because medication and quarantine can be properly followed when patients, particularly those who are in critical condition, move to the hospitals.”

“At this juncture, to set up proper hospitals may be highly time-consuming. Hence, the makeshift structures are the only way out. Particularly, in some of the relatively poorer states, the healthcare system must be revamped. And this is one of the initiatives in that direction,” he added. – Livemint