Odisha: ‘Non-Covid patients suffered in focused fight against virus’ | Bhubaneswar News

BHUBANESWAR: Thanks to the pandemic, governments across the globe—and people at large—understood the greater importance of good health and the contribution of the healthcare sector. In Odisha, allocation for health went up by around 20% in the state budget.
While the human race had a testing time fighting an invisible enemy, healthcare workers became the soldiers in this war. In the fight many became martyrs and thousands wounded. Odisha lost around 30 doctors from among 1971 who succumbed to the infections.
A focussed fight against the virus probably helped reduce deaths. However, looking back, many healthcare insiders feel a great disservice was done to people suffering from other diseases in the past one year.
“In the close-it-all approach during lockdown, the hospitals shut OPDs and stopped elective procedures. Pregnant woman had a harrowing time in getting institutional support for even normal delivery. Dialysis stopped. Routine chemotherapy for cancer went haywire. Care for the giant killers of heart diseases, cancer and diabetes. Looking back I think this could have been avoided,” said Ashok Mahapatra, former director of AIIMS Bhubaneswar, who is currently vice-chancellor of SOA University.
While many doctors remained on the forefront of covid care, a big section also sat idle for months as other treatments were mostly stopped. Moreover, with no transport available even serious patients faced difficulties in reaching hospitals. Hospital infrastructure other than those used for covid were rendered idle for most part of the year. Deaths from every other cause, other than road mishaps, have gone up during lockdown.
Many doctors feel it was a year of new learning. This new learning is that health is actually wealth, it’s not a mere adage. This learning will stay with us for hundreds of years. The healthcare strategy, which was moving away from focusing on infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases, will change, said Ghanashyam Biswas, a medical oncologist who had suffered from Covid.
For some, covid brought temporary jobs in the healthcare sector, which vanished as infections went down. “Amid the concern over rising infections, many like me were hired to join the army of covid warriors and then fired as infections went down,” said Sibabrata Nayak (24), who joined as a laboratory technician in a government-run Covid hospital at Sambalpur in May and was disengaged in December.

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