Rajasthan: Not Many Takers For Rajasthan’s Covid Helpline Due To Sluggish Response

JAIPUR : The state’s sluggish response to the cries of Covid-infected persons is adding to the woes of the already suffering patients and their families in the state.

It has taken over a year since the first Covid-19 case and over 2 lakh active cases in the ongoing second wave for the state government to finally come up with a onestop helpline, which was announced recently and which is far from enough.

At a time when citizens depend entirely on the government for medicines and oxygen to combat Covid, the response by Rajasthan government is disheartening. The recent launch of a helpline for senior patients is a welcome move, but far from enough. The response mechanism has technical and managerial flaws, which have led to under-utilisation of available resources. A robust system with a single helpline for all patients should replace the multiple layers in the current system. Resources available with civil society should also be integrated with the state apparatus. The state should adopt the best workable solutions from other states. The response system must also be developed and strengthened keeping in mind all future challenges.

The assistance provided by the government, in terms of ensuring hospital beds, medicines, isolation facilities is pathetic and the role of municipal and local bodies, which in other cities play a much greater role, is almost negligible in the state.

Most other states like Delhi and Maharashtra have a centralised system where a positive patient can register and the state will help in getting him or her hospital bed.

In Rajasthan, the state helpline’s main role was largely restricted to providing the phone numbers of the dedicated Covid hospitals. No assistance is being provided in securing admission, except for serious patients.

The trouble comes with those looking for an emergency response like beds, ambulance, oxygen and plasma. The helpline numbers provide information on the beds available at the government hospitals, which is rarely vacant. The counsellor can provide you with the number of the dedicated private hospital, but can’t help you finding a vacant bed.

Ambulance service is available to any hospital only when beds are available. The dashboard updates information three times a day – 9am, 2pm and 8pm or during the day. The information from 8pm remains unchanged till 9am in the morning, giving jitters to those facing emergency situations during the night.

“We cannot tell you which hospital to take your patient to. We can give you contact numbers, you have to call the hospitals yourself,” this reporter was informed when called up for assistance.

In other states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, the government health teams keep a tab over the patients not just in the hospitals, but also on those who are home quarantined. A close watch and guided assistance is provided on call and patients are monitored till they do not complete their isolation period and recover.

“When I tested positive, all I received was a call from an Aayush doctor. He verified my age and address and asked about the other health factors. Then he gave me the control room’s number and asked to check the government website for hospital beds. That is it. There was no follow up and no medicines provided. I was forced to go to a private doctor,” said Saurabh Sharma, a 39-year-old resident of Nirman Nagar.

Like in other states, the infected person is not supplied with a medical kit, his house is not sanitised and garbage from his/her house is not singled out by the local authorities. The visit by any health worker to assess the situation of the patient and his surroundings is not being done, which is a standard practice in other states.

“The mandatory visit to an infected person for his health check-up, counselling the family members, assessing if that person needs a home quarantine or institutional quarantine is very important to save lives,” said Chayya Pancholi, a healthcare expert, adding that this system has been adopted by some states like Maharashtra in a professional manner.

She argued that the patient’s family is left to fend for themselves from arranging medicines to sanitising the house.

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