- COVID cases spike in Bihar
- State elections amidst COVID-19
- The dearth of doctors and infrastructural constraints in Bihar
THD NewsDesk, Bihar: The State with the third-largest population, Bihar, is on its way to conduct the democratic State elections once again in 2020, amidst the surging cases of COVID-19 pandemic, further worsened by the Bihar floods. Bihar currently has 11,000 active patients, as per the recently released data by the Union Health Ministry. The State shall follow stringent polling and campaigning guidelines, as the State is faced with unprecedented challenges of the ongoing pandemic. With a population crossing 100 million, Bihar ranks 14 on the “World’s most populated States.” The excessive people have made it extremely difficult for the State to juggle the organization of elections, the health emergency of COVID, and the flood-hit repercussions.
India rests on the 184th position, amidst a whole of 191 nations in healthcare investment and innovation, as per the World Health Organisation. While the country struggles with its flawed Healthcare system in dealing with the epidemic, Bihar has come to the forefront with the most alarming statistics on the healthcare aspect.
The Doctor Dearth
The data does go on to be more and more disappointing, as statistics suggest that there are only 2792 doctors for a population of over 100 million. Breaking it down more, in actuality, one doctor serves 43,788 people. The drawn parallel between a poor state of healthcare management and relatively low-income is attracting low numbers of doctors who would voluntarily serve the State. In more recent news, the federal government introduced a 3-month mandatory district residentship program (DRO) for the post-graduating medical students. This initiative germinates hope in the hearts of the people and raises scope to lighten the healthcare and doctor community’s burden by attracting more doctors. However, this one initiative cannot fill in for the shortage of workforce in the medical industry. The State seems to be in a dire need for state-level initiatives to address the population’s concerns in the longer-run.
As per the same report of the World Health Organisation, Bihar has approximately 2,000 health centers and 150 community health centers for the entire residing population. Moreover, consistent underinvestment into its healthcare system means that amenities and hygiene conditions are grossly under-par even at these centers. A lack of beds – Bihar, reportedly, has just 0.11 per 1,000 people – has also come to characterize the State’s crumbling infrastructure.
The Centre’s introduction of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in 2005 went some ways towards infusing the State’s system with much-needed resources that led to improvements in the primary healthcare delivery, and consequently, improvements in key indicators like an infant, child, and maternal mortality. But since then, Bihar has failed to build on this through further investment, especially in rural areas.
The government’s flagship program, Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana – has also failed to gain much traction in the State. It is mostly the wealthy demographic across the State’s urban centers that benefit from Bihar’s high-end health facilities.
Several experts have drawn attention to Bihar’s need to draft a forward-looking healthcare policy that addresses the governance and administrative issues that continue to plague the State. Eventually, a resilient and sensitive healthcare system will come to have outsize multiplier effects on the economy, resulting from a healthier and more productive workforce.
A health emergency like COVID-19 has brought out the true colors of the nation’s position of healthcare. While governments worldwide fight resiliently to safeguard their population against the novel coronavirus, Bihar is in full preparation to conduct their upcoming elections. The elaborate election process is going to have grave repercussions on the life and safety of people. Amidst the concerning records of COVID-positive cases and consequent deaths, the election does not quite definitely seem in favor of the people, nor for the people, neither by the people.