Hyderabad: Perhaps no other metro city in the country is as welcoming as Hyderabad when it comes to treating patients from other States and abroad as well. This was the case last year too, when Covid-19 infections were being reported for the first time and super specialty hospitals and highly-skilled manpower in private and government health sector in Hyderabad treated critical Covid cases from other States.
This year, however, the pandemic has been quite different, because of the intensity of the second wave and the rapid rise of infections, which has put medical infrastructure and manpower in Telangana under stress in just a matter of two to three weeks.
The second wave hit Maharashtra, Karnataka and other States in February-March and within weeks, a sizeable portion of hospital beds with ventilators and oxygen across the State had patients from these States.
By the time people from Hyderabad needed hospital beds, the resources were hard to come by. Residents of Telangana ended up sharing scarce resources such as oxygen and drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab with patients from other States.
Realising this, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, during his multiple video conferences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged this issue and highlighted the need to allocate additional resources, as Telangana was treating its own patients as well as patients from other States. However, the Centre continued to allocate resources based on the actual count of Covid infections in TS, ignoring the fact that the State was grappling with a large burden of patients from other States.
Legal experts have drawn a parallel to the present situation in Telangana to that of Karnataka, when it petitioned the Supreme Court last year, challenging the Kerala High Court order on opening the national highway at the Kasaragod border to provide hospital access in Mangaluru to Kerala patients.
“The matter was resolved when Chief Secretaries of both States held direct talks. It was agreed that Karnataka will allow only non-Covid patients to access healthcare after due vetting of patients from Kerala. However, in Telangana’s case, it is being construed as if the State government is denying treatment to those coming from other States, whereas the attempt is to ensure out-of-State patients reach Telangana with a prior agreement with the hospital,” points out High Court advocate Ramesh Kuthumbaka.
“Due to extreme pressure on infrastructure, we urged people of other States to first confirm hospital beds prior to reaching Hyderabad. Unfortunately, this attempt to streamline admissions was politicised as a fight for resources between two States, which is not the case,” Director of Public Health Dr G Srinivasa Rao said.
To discourage Covid patients from outside accessing healthcare services, many States such as Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Goa and Karnataka insist for an RT-PCR negative test from persons who are travelling to these States. However, Telangana does not impose such restrictions, officials point out.
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