Congress leader Sravan Dasoju today penned a letter to CM K Chandrashekar Rao demanding that the latter declare a health emergency in Telangana.
At a time when the second wave of Covid-19 is devastating Telangana owing to a lack of sufficient health infrastructure, national AICC Spokesperson Dr Sravan Dasoju today penned an open letter to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao demanding that the latter declare a health emergency in the state, and submitted ten concrete suggestions to deal with the pandemic.
The senior Congress leader also urged the CM to take all the steps necessary in order to revamp the healthcare system in the state to make Telangana a role model to other states in effectively fighting the current pandemic and any other similar health problems in the future.
Criticising KCR for dismissing Health Minister Etala Rajender and taking over the state's health ministry himself, he claimed that that the move had made the healthcare even more inaccessible to the common man, and added, "The people of the state are being unable to procure Remdesivir injections, used to treat critical Covid-19 patients, till the de facto CM, IT Minister K T Rama Rao, intervenes on a case-to-case basing using his Twitter account. I demand that the government buy the life-saving drug by investing Rs 100 crore for the procurement, and that it distribute the injections through army canteens to avoid any black marketing of the same."
Besides this, Sravan asked that 24/7 Covid-19 "war rooms" be set up at the state and district levels and that a special task force, comprising the CM, the Health Minister, doctors, industrialists, government officials, NGOs and RWAs, be constituted to provide guidance and direction to the public.
According to him, KCR, had been spending time only on "lopsided fantasies and misplaced priorities" by building an ultra-modern Secretariat by spending thousands of crores of rupees, and that he had invested all his time in the various elections conducted in the state rather than on taking steps to equip the healthcare sector to deal with the pandemic.
"The people of Telangana are dying due to the lack of beds in hospitals and the non-availability of medical oxygen. Despite this, nearly 40-50% of the positions of medical staff are vacant. Further, lifesaving drugs such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab are brazenly being sold in the black market for exorbitant prices, and the WHO guidelines to "trace, test, treat and vaccinate" are not being fully implemented by the state government. Private hospitals continue to loot patients, exploiting their extreme vulnerability amidst the pandemic. It is shameful that despite being a global pharma hub and the home of the indigenous Covid-19 vaccine, the Covaxin, the state is unable to provide its people with vaccines and other lifesaving drugs in adequate quantities. This only reflects the poor governance of Telangana. The CM has unfortunately prioritised petty politics, ignoring the interests of the people. His vindictiveness has left the state's health ministry leaderless and rudderless," the Congress bigwig fumed.
He advised the CM to appoint a doctor or a health care professional as the new health minister of Telangana to help the department navigate through the current public health crisis, and to deploy personnel of the armed forces at private hospitals and diagnostic centres to prevent the facilities from looting patients.
Listing his demands, Sravan also asked the state government to "set up adequate free testing kiosks and many more vaccination centres as well, vaccinate the entire population of the state, ensure that senior citizens have the option of getting vaccinated in the safety of their homes, release ex-gratia aid to the families who have lost their near and dear ones due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and include Covid-19 treatment under the state-run Arogyasri healthcare scheme".
"It is also important that lifesaving drugs such as Remdesivir and Tosilizumab be procured in sufficient quantities, and that all the vacant government posts in the health department, identified by the Biswal Commission, be filled at the earliest. Alongside ensuring ICU availability, oxygen production and ventilator bed manufacturing must be ramped up. All final year medical students and nursing students should be recruited on a priority. They must be given incentives to encourage them to treat Covid-19 patients with online training. Allow foreign medical graduates to also join the health sector workforce to overcome the shortfall of qualified doctors and other health staff. The government must also distribute important supplements, such as zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B-Complex to the poor and needy," he added.
Lamenting that even after spending about Rs 17 lakh crores in 7 years, the TRS government had not been able to strengthen the health facilities in the state, the AICC spokesperson pointed out, "The state has only about 45,000 hospital beds. Of these, only 14,000 (30%) beds are available in government hospitals. The rest of the 31,000 (70%) are contained in private health facilities. For every 10,000 persons in Telangana, there are only 1.3 regular beds, 1.5 oxygen beds and 0.6 ICU beds in the government sector, while there are 3.6 regular beds, 2.5 oxygen beds and 1.7 ICU beds in the private sector. It is then not an unwarranted demand to ask the TRS government to convert the under-construction Secretariat into a state-of-the-art super specialty hospital to treat Covid-19 patients."