Mumbai: Amid a spurt in Covid infections and the number of deaths among children 0-18 years, the Maharashtra government has decided to set up a taskforce of leading paediatricians to suggest treatment, nursing protocols and SOPs for this category. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a virtual meeting with veteran paediatricians on Thursday night to decide the framework of the taskforce and its mandate. The government is expected to announce its set-up shortly and Dr Bakul Parekh, past president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), is likely to be its chairperson. Another contender for this position is Dr Suhas Prabhu from Hinduja Hospital, who was formerly paediatrician to Aaditya Thackeray.
Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope told The Free Press Journal, “The proposed taskforce for children up to 18 years will comprise paediatricians who will work on the lines of the state Covid taskforce headed by Dr Sanjay Oak, which guides the government on Covid-19 protocols for adults. The formation of the taskforce was necessary as in the first wave, the elderly were affected but in the second wave, youth was affected. The third wave is likely to affect children so the taskforce will recommend treatment protocol to be implemented on a war footing.”
Former IAP President Dr Swati Bhave said the taskforce would have an important role to play in establishing guidelines and protocols for managing paediatric Covid patients, right from tertiary hospitals in cities to primary health centres in districts. It should also put in place guidelines for the vaccination of young children and on the education of parents and the community on how to prevent Covid infection in children and how to manage them in home quarantine.
“The taskforce should also recommend how to maintain positive mental and physical health in children during Covid lockdowns and prepare guidelines on school reopening and precautions to be followed,” said Dr Bhave.
IAP Joint Secretary Dr Samir Dalwai said the taskforce would have to estimate the burden of infections and the proportion that would require hospitalisation and intensive care. This infrastructure, including medical staff and material, needs to be prepared all over the state. “The taskforce will make a strong case for the urgent vaccination of children. Besides, how to triage children is also important,” he observed.