Amid the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gujarat recorded an alarming 74-fold increase in the number of adolescent and adult deaths due to “other fever-related causes” in April and May compared to the same period last year, according to data from standard reports made public on Health Management Information System (HMIS).
This year, 3,562 such deaths were recorded in April and May, while the figure was just 49 in the same period last year.
Overall inpatient deaths — deaths recorded at health facilities following admission — also went up four times. With 12,376 such deaths in two months this year, the figure stands out from the 3,100-odd deaths recorded in these two months in the past three years.
The provisional data for the two months this year also sees a steep rise in deaths due to respiratory diseases and infections other than tuberculosis, heart disease and hypertension-related causes, known acute disease, chronic disease as well as causes not known.
As per the bulletin put out by the state, 1,035 people had died of Covid-19 in April and May of 2020 across Gujarat, while in the same period for 2021, amid the second wave, the state recorded 5,301 Covid-19 deaths.
To compare these figures with pre-pandemic times, in April and May 2019, 99 such deaths due to fever-related causes were reported across the state, while the number in 2018 was 93. Comparing the 2021 data with that of pre-pandemic times, this year’s deaths of adolescents and adults due to fever-related causes will be a nearly 36-fold jump.
Around 70 per cent of the 3,562 deaths due to fever-related causes were reported in urban areas of Jamnagar while Ahmedabad and Dahod recorded no such deaths.
Deaths in adolescents and adults due to respiratory diseases, including infections other than tuberculosis, went up by five times — from 865 in April and May last year to 4,708 in those two months this year. The number of deaths in this category this year is over four times that of the numbers in 2018 and 2019.
Banaskantha recorded the highest number of deaths in adults and adolescents — 1,349 — due to respiratory diseases, including infections other than tuberculosis, of which nearly all were in rural areas. Similarly, in Mehsana, 634 deaths were recorded — all in rural areas. In April and May 2019, when Banaskantha recorded 197 such deaths, Mehsana reported 127 deaths due to respiratory diseases, indicating a 6-fold and 5-fold increase in the two districts, respectively.
Despite NITI Aayog’s SDG index report on good health earlier this year ranking Gujarat number 1 in the country, HMIS reports show a 4-fold jump in “maternal deaths due to other causes, including causes not known” in April and May this year, compared to the same period last year. A total of 374 such deaths were recorded across the state, compared to 93 such deaths recorded last year.
Of the 374 maternal deaths due to other causes, 81 deaths were recorded in Rajkot, with 72 of them in urban areas and 45 more recorded in Jamnagar — the two districts most affected.
While no maternal deaths due to abortion were recorded last year, 11 such deaths were recorded in April and May months this year, including eight in Surat rural alone. Twelve maternal deaths due to prolonged or obstructed labour were reported in the state compared to just two such deaths last year.
Notably, the Gujarat Health Department has not published Medical Certification of Cause of Death reports after 2018. The department’s annual report on the working of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, which gives detailed data on birth and death registration across the state, has not been published since 2020.