HYDERABAD: The deadly Covid-19 pandemic seems to have lost steam as an issue among political parties. The manifestos of all three major parties in the fray for the upcoming GHMC elections had little about controlling the ensuing pandemic.
While the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi has promised the construction of three more TIMS on the lines of TIMS-Gachibowli, the BJP has promised that the testing and delivery of vaccines through PHCs will be streamlined in the municipal corporation limits.
The Congress, meanwhile, has assured to bring Covid-19 under Arogyasri and increase the number of Basti Dawakhanas to 450 and extend its timings until 9 pm, along with having four dedicated multi- speciality hospitals.
However, public health experts and doctors note that none of the manifestoes fulfil requirements, and have failed to visualise the important role municipalities play to prevent and contain infectious diseases.
“It is shocking how people and parties have forgotten how dengue gripped Hyderabad in 2019 and killed so many. That was the outcome of poor sanitation by GHMC, who failed to carry out anti-larval activities. Municipalities have a crucial role in taking up preventive activities, but no manifesto is offering a foolproof plan,” noted Dr Mahesh Kumar from the Healthcare Reforms Doctors Association (HRDA).
He added that political parties must commit a certain sum of the municipal budget for a Covid-19 action plan and Basti Dawakhanas. Experts state that a vision for municipalities to control the pandemic is lacking.
“In general terms, municipalities have a huge role to play in health communication and behavioural change. Masks and social distancing are the best weapons to prevent Covid-19, and municipalities should also fund awareness drives."
"In states like Kerala, panchayats are spending huge sums on improving healthcare and a similar thing must be done in municipalities,” states Dr Subodh Kandumuthan, Professor and Director of Centre for Health Care Management, ASCI.
Giving an example, he says the Bengaluru municipality has played a proactive role in monitoring private hospitals to ensure that 50 per cent of the beds were designated for Covid patients, and also hired their own staff for swab collections, laboratory testing and data entry.
The municipality is also known to be working with health centres to streamline distribution of vaccines.