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Govt is focussing on districts as much on Bengaluru: State Health Minister

Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on October 15, 2020 Published on October 15, 2020

Having both health and medical education departments under one minister will ensure better coordination and further streamline the government’s efforts to tackle Covid-19: Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar

As Covid-19 cases mount in Karnataka, especially in Bengaluru, at an alarming rate, state Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa has been quick to effect several changes in the health ministry to make it work efficiently. Dr K Sudhakar, minister for medical education, has been given additional charge of the health ministry. In an interview with BusinessLine, the minister outlines the measures that he plans to undertake to handle the Covid-19 pandemic. Excerpts:

You now have an additional responsibility of running the health ministry. How will the combination of running both the ministries help you to tackle the rising cases of Covid-19?

Health and Medical Education Departments are integral to each other. Having both departments under one minister will ensure better coordination and further streamline the government’s efforts to tackle Covid-19. The number of beds in Jayadeva Hospital, Bengaluru, is being increased from 700 to 1,000. It will be the largest heart care hospital with 1,000 beds under one roof. A fully equipped 350-bedded hospital at a cost of ₹50 crore will be built by Sudha Murthy of Infosys Foundation.

As Covid-19 cases are on the rise, there is an apprehension of a shortage of hospital beds in the state. How are you going to handle it?

After the pandemic started, the State has taken steps to substantially ramp up the infrastructure in government hospitals. Oxygenated beds, ICUs and ventilators are very important to treat serious Covid-19 patients. Before the pandemic started, we had about 7,000 oxygenated beds in government hospitals. This number has been increased to about 18,000. More than 10,000 of these beds have been reserved for Covid-19 patients. Apart from this, another 4,250 oxygenated beds have been reserved for Covid-19 patients in private hospitals. Similarly, we have reserved 1,811 ICU beds in government hospitals and another 1,269 in private hospitals for Covid-19 patients. Once the work of oxygenation of beds is completed, we will have more than 31,000 such beds in government hospitals alone. Also, Jayadeva Hospital at Mysuru is like Sanjeevini for the old Mysuru region, providing quality treatment to the people of Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajanagara, Hassan and Kodagu districts. Since there is much pressure on the hospital, we are increasing the bed capacity to 400. Also, one more operation theatre will be coming up.

How do you plan to improve inter-district coordination in tackling Covid-19? Also, there is a perception that the government is giving more focus on Bengaluru than the districts?

The government is focusing on districts as much as it is focusing on Bengaluru. I have personally visited almost all the districts and have taken stock of the preparedness. In the last one week the chief minister has chaired two video conferences with DCs, ZP CEOs, SPs, DHOs, and heads of medical colleges of 10 districts to review the situation. We are sending special teams to districts which need further help in containing Covid-19. I visited Mysuru twice last week to review the availability of medical facilities and discuss precautionary measures to be taken ahead of Dasara celebrations.

What measures are you taking to reduce Karnataka’s rising fatality rate?

Karnataka’s Covid-19 fatality rate is reducing and recovery rate is improving day by day. The state recorded a mortality rate of 1.39 per cent, which fell from 2.08 per cent on July 20, while recording a recovery rate of 82.98 per cent, way higher than its lowest of 35.29 per cent recorded on the same day in July.

Migrants are coming back. So, the number of Covid-19 cases is going up. What are the measures planned to handle this?

After we started unlock and economic activities began picking up gradually, people were returning back. We have to focus on lives and livelihoods. This is where awareness plays an important role. Government is taking several measures to increase awareness among people about the importance of wearing masks, hand sanitisation and social distancing. People must understand that we are in the middle of the battle and we cannot afford to become complacent.

There is an increase in patients who have recovered coming back for non-Covid-19 treatment? Is the state aware of it and are any measures being taken to minimise it?

The government has formed an expert committee consisting of cardiologist, pulmonologist, nephrologist, physician and other specialists which will study the possible long-term effects of Covid-19 infection. The report is expected soon and this will help make necessary modifications in our treatment protocol and post-Covid-19 care. However, based on several inputs, we have already introduced cardiac manifestation prevention drugs in the treatment prophylactically as per guidelines.

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Published on October 15, 2020
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