Mumbai: While the city's health facilities are strained with a rising number of Covid-19 cases and unavailability of beds, according to data released by a Mumbai based non-governmental organization (NGO), despite available funds, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation seems to have neglected health infrastructure over the past few years.
Based on information obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Praja Foundation on Tuesday released a white paper on ‘The State of Health in Mumbai’ highlighting the need for improving health infrastructure and monitoring for a better health care system.
Milind Mhaske, Director, Praja Foundation, said, over 54 per cent of health capital expenditure was unutilised in the year 2018-2019, 47 per cent was unutilised in 2017-2018, and 74 per cent in 2016-17.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the spotlight on public health in the city. It has also highlighted the need to move beyond our response to the disease and implement policies for improving our public health system.
“One of the major problems that have been highlighted during the pandemic is pressure on the public health infrastructure. Inadequate health infrastructure, lack of health personnel and poor budget utilisation spell disaster for tackling any disease that affects the people of the city”, said Nitai Mehta, Trustee, Praja Foundation.
The Praja Foundation whitepaper also claimed that one of the reasons for the shortage of manpower in the public health institutions was the huge percentage of vacancy of medical personnel.
“Civic hospitals had a 62% vacancy of medical personnel in 2019 while for primary health care in Mumbai it was 30%. This shows that while government health institutions have been the forerunners in battling COVID-19 pandemic, the current situation has led to overburdening on public health institutions which for so long have not been strengthened with the capacity to tackle such crises”, said Mehta.
Mhaske said vacant medical personnel posts and non-utilisation of the budget allocated to medical institution infrastructure has led to a graver situation of the inability in providing crucial healthcare to non-COVID patients who are especially dependent on public health institutions and cannot afford private care.
“This is clearly reflected in the deaths data which shows that many more people died in the lockdown of causes other than COVID-19 which has a direct relation to the lack of public health facilities available for non-COVID patients during this period”, stated Mhaske.