As per a data submitted by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), 15 out of 199 civic-run dispensaries were functioning for more than 12 hours while the remaining 184 dispensaries were open only for 4-5 hours, speaking about the lack of accessibility to medical facilities for the common man.
If the civic officials are to be believed, the reason for it has been because most of the staff are being deployed at public hospitals to handle the covid patients.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of good health practices and well-being in all our lives. At the same time, it highlighted the importance of health data management, adequate number of health personnel and stronger primary health infrastructure," said Nitai Mehta, Trustee, Praja Foundation.
Senior health officials from the civic health department said there were several other factors too which resulted in fewer dispensaries functioning for 14 hours compared to others. This has also been mainly because of the lack of medical and para-medical staff in the civic body.
As per the NGO report, close to 45 per cent of medical and para-medical posts are vacant which include lecturers, nursing staff and labourers. The shortage of staff increased from 28% in 2019 to 30% in 2020.
The ongoing pandemic has further burdened many public health institutions beyond their limits. The sanctioned personnel posts in the public health department and municipal hospitals were decreased by 410 from 2019 to 2020.
Giving an example of the situation, the P-North (Malad) has a population of 9.74 lakh highest among all other wards, but there are only 11 dispensaries and three government hospitals for the entire population. However, as per the National Building Code (NBC) norms, there should be 65 dispensaries in the ward.
As per the NBC norm (one dispensary for 15,000 population), Mumbai requires 858 government dispensaries. Civic officials blamed the pandemic due to which all the staff were handling covid patients at the hospitals.
However, even with the Health Management Information System (HMIS) in place, the city has not been able to maintain real-time data for other diseases. “Records of non-Covid deaths have been unavailable due to the lack of maintenance of real-time Cause of Death (COD) data since January 2020. Furthermore, the number of registered cases of major diseases in HMIS showed a decline of 29% from 2019 to 2020. This can either mean that the healthcare system in Mumbai has improved drastically in one year or that diseases are not being reported due to pandemic-led accessibility issues,” said Milind Mhaske, Director, Praja Foundation.
The NGO had also conducted a survey on “Impact of Covid-19” which stated that 36% of respondents in Mumbai faced difficulty in accessing healthcare services for non-Covid issues.
Moreover, the city is falling behind to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for many communicable and non-communicable diseases.
After adopting the SDG 2030 in 2015, the body had to meet the target of 0 TB cases/1 lakh population till the stipulated time. But the number in 2020 is at an alarming rate of 298 TB cases/1 lakh population.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)