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Separate healthcare authority for Bengaluru on anvil: Karnataka government

The Karnataka government is planning to make an independent health authority for Bengaluru, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Sunday, a move that comes after the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the inadequacies in the healthcare system of the city.

“I am preparing an independent health system for Bengaluru. Health is not with the corporation (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the city’s civic body) or the (state health) department and will make an effort to bring this under one system,” Bommai said.

He said Bengaluru has a high population density, making it harder to separate the city and state authorities in health care. “It would be right if all of Bengaluru’s health infrastructure should be under one authority,” Bommai said.

The statements come at a time when there appears to be an overlap in the overall health system of Karnataka and the BBMP, especially during the two waves of Covid-19 infections. The renewed focus on healthcare comes at a time when the threat of a third wave of infections looms over the city and state.

Bommai said the Kalyana Karnataka (formerly Hyderabad Karnataka) region has a ratio of 10,000 patients for one hospital bed. Even the number of patients per doctor is very high due to regional imbalance as well as lack of focus on healthcare infrastructure in the past 70 years, he said.

Bommai acknowledged that the healthcare system was inadequate during the first two bouts of the pandemic in Bengaluru. Hundreds of thousands have suffered with many lives lost due to pandemic-related infrastructure problems including lack of hospital beds, oxygen, life-saving medication and even space to cremate the dead, exposing the fault lines in one of India’s most technologically advanced cities. Karnataka’s Covid caseload nears 3 million and fatalities stand at over 37,400, according to government data.

Bommai mooted that there be a diploma in public health in which people would be trained to visit each home, gather information on medical history, raise awareness on nutrition and hygiene that would help keep the population more secure.

Bommai unveiled 120 advanced life support ambulances under the Arogya Kavacha scheme.

“There are about 710 ambulances operating under the Arogya Kavacha — 108 scheme and 155 among them are ALS ambulances. All the 120 ambulances flagged off by CM today are ALS ambulances,” said Dr K Sudhakar, Karnataka’s minister for health, family welfare and medical education.

The minister said that if technologies, such as GPS and mobile app, are adopted, then ambulances can reach the patient within 10-15 minutes as against around 45 minutes now due to the disorganised approach and traffic snarls.

“At present there is one ambulance for 1 lakh (10 million) population and we want to increase it to make 1 ambulance for every 45,000 to 50,000 population. We also provide training to drivers and paramedical staff to make the service more people-friendly,” Sudhakar said. Hindustan Times

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