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New Karnataka CM will have to take tough decisions, increase health infra

Experts fear leadership change could lead to cabinet rejig, want continuation of BSY’s policies

Published: 27th July 2021 07:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th July 2021 02:03 PM   |  A+A-

The new chief minister will take charge at a time when Karnataka is staring  at a possible Covid-19 third wave | Shriram BN

Express News Service

BENGALURU: It’s been two years of “trial by fire” for the BS Yediyurappa-led Karnataka government, even in managing the pandemic, say health experts. Appreciating Yediyurappa for taking some tough decisions, and critical about a few others, besides U-turns on policy announcements, the medical fraternity and public health experts listed out some issues the new Chief Minister will have to immediately focus on, with the third Covid wave expected to wash in.  

The biggest challenge would be to ensure that schools open, and procure vaccines on an urgent basis, say doctors. “Covid-19 is not yet over. The vaccination rate should at least be doubled to avoid the third wave, and focus should be on framing an informed policy to reopen schools,” says Prof. Sashikumaar Ganesan, Chairman, Department of Computational and Data Sciences, Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

Agreeing that vaccination can be ramped up only if vaccines are procured, Dr Manjunath CN, Covid-19 Techincal Advisory Committee member and director of Jayadeva Hospital, says Yediyurappa faltered in some situations, especially in allowing gatherings -- political, religious, and opening of cinemas -- leading to big spike in cases. “This should definitely be avoided. The new CM will have to take tough decisions and not allow any gatherings, even celebrations of his appointment,” he said.

Expressing concern that a leadership change may lead to reshuffling of the cabinet, Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, epidemiologist, vaccinologist, public health, and policy expert, says decisions taken by the previous government must continue. “Change in the government can mean a new cabinet, and possibly, a new health minister. There should be continuity in health-related decisions,” he said.The new CM should ensure increase in allocation for health to at least 8% of the state budget, filling of existing vacancies in government facilities, and attention to making primary healthcare facilities functional.

Dr Sylvia Karpagam, public health doctor and researcher, said a surge in malnutrition is expected.“The new CM should not just give people cereals and millets, but also subsidised pulses, legumes, eggs, meat, poultry and fish. Livelihoods have to be supported, especially of the marginalised. Post the anti-cattle slaughter ban, those who lost their livelihood have to be supported,” she explained. Appreciating Yediyurappa for taking a stance against communalisation of the pandemic and targeting of the Muslim community, Dr Sylvia says it was a “positive intervention”.

Calling Yediyurappa a “man of the masess with grassroots connect”, Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, Chairman, Manipal Hospitals, says, “The ferocity of the second wave was unprecedented and unexpected. We interacted closely with Yeddiyurappa during these periods, and he led from the front. One of his greatest qualities was that he took the private sector along, and because of this, the Covid crisis was managed much better. We need to have robust healthcare infrastructure and personnel, especially in rural areas. More paediatric infrastructure, digital technology, triaging facilities are also a priority.” 



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