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Exclusive: Meghalaya’s preparedness to tackle COVID 19 crisis

A.L Hek, Hon'ble Health Minister, Government of Meghalaya

The Corona virus has presented us very unprecedented crisis in all the sectors including healthcare. The sector would emerge stronger and vibrant once COVID crisis goes over. We have utilized the lockdown period to strengthen healthcare delivery system and training personnel at every level, said A.L Hek, Hon’ble Health Minister, Government of Meghalaya, in a webinar with Dr Ravi Gupta, Founder & editor in chief, Elets technomedia.

COVID-19 situation in Meghalaya

Everybody is ready to fight the pandemic in the State. They are working out of their ways to tackle the crisis. We have already tested 12, 153 people for COVID-19 in Meghalaya. 11,859 were found negative while 44 found positive. Out of the total positive, 18 have already recovered. That mean only 25 active cases are in the State currently.

On asking how state’s health system ready to tackle the challenge, he said: “We have converted two hospitals into COVID-19 hospitals. In Shilong, we have 300 bed civil hospital. We are prepared 10,000 beds in all the hospitals in Shilong. That’s our preparation to meet any emergency situation if cases increase in unprecedented manner.

 

Lockdown in districts and guidelines

We follow national guidelines of government of India on lockdown situation. We have imposed complete lockdown in Meghalaya. We have not allowed anyone to enter the state or roam in any of the district. There are 11 districts and all have quarantine centres. In addition, we are aiming for more such centres across the state.

State of equipment like PPE and ventilators

There are around 44,403 PPE to protect healthcare staff while tacking covid-19 patients. We have 59 ventilators including private and public hospital. We have 60 BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machine. We have around 4,000 rapid testing kits.

Talking about availability of doctors, he said: “We have 8 doctors and 26 nurses deployed recently at different PHCs. We have given appointment to 15 lab technicians, 9 OT staff, and also recruited many other staff to deal with the situation.” He further said all of eight private hospitals are supporting government to contain the infection.

Ensuring availability of food and other essentials in lockdown situation

We have ensured supply of food to all corona and quarantine centre and hospitals as well. The Government is taking care of it in all the districts. We have managed well supply of essential commodities during the lockdown. Farmers have not affected much and continue doing farming jobs.

Also read: ICMR to scale up COVID-19 testing capacity to 4 lakh per day

How department supporting each others

Every department works in cohesion. They are supporting each other and the government in the fight against Corona infection. Urban affairs department is involved in ensuring sanitization of entire state. Similarly department of food, ensure supply of essential items. Everybody is showing collective efforts to drive the viral infection away from the state.

How positive patients, stranded persons are being dealt with?

They have been isolated at centers. Patients are getting all facilities there. Government has lent helping hand to all those stranded persons during the lockdown. Their requirements of food, medicine or any other things have been taken care by the state government. We have not allowed anyone to enter the state till lockdown gets over. Even a student, who belongs to the state, has been asked to remain there for some time. The government has transferred Rs 3,000 in their account.

Health insurance for health workers

We have already Mega Health insurance scheme which covers all citizens of Meghalaya where we are paying Rs 5 lakh for every household. We are taking care of the health expenses of citizens. One can avail treatment facility in any of the government and private facility.

Challenges

Being a hill state, we have lots of challenges especially accessibility. We face infrastructural issue and manpower shortage as well. In this pandemic, we have realized to bolster infrastructure at district level. ICU care, ventilators, beds should be available in all districts. Unfortunately, most of the districts were lacking such facilities but the government is working to improve the same. We have tried to make available all the necessary basic life support like sanitizers and all peripheral facilities. At district level, we have provided ventilators and BiPAP machines. This will help us in future to meet any emergency situation. We have already started tele consultation and telemedicine services which will prove to be gamechanger in coming days.

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