While the Covid-19 pandemic has affected health services in other parts of the state as well, the impact on Mumbai is far greater, showed a five-month comparative analysis of data accessed from the BMC and the state public health department between March and July in 2019 and 2020.
Immunisation from March to July this year fell by 60 per cent in Mumbai when compared to last year. The dip is almost double than the state’s fall in numbers.
Over the same period, cataract surgeries fell by 92.8 per cent. In April, May and June, when Covid-19 cases surged, the hospitals did not record any cataract and male sterilisation procedures. There was a 70.3 per cent decline in male and female sterilisation in the city, against 65 per cent in the state, as elective procedures came to a standstill.
The data also showed that the number of child births in Mumbai hospitals – in private, BCM and state-run units – declined, from 58,132 in the five months of 2019 to 47,260 this year – an 18.7 per cent dip.
BMC officials attributed the decline in child births to lack of availability of transport. Many residents of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, like Kalyan, Mira Road and Navi Mumbai, who usually prefer Mumbai hospitals for the delivery of their child, could not travel this time.
“BMC hospitals also cater to nearby districts but the population there cannot access our services. Reduction in child births could also be because of the exodus of migrant labourers,” said Dr Mangala Gomare, BMC Executive Health Officer. She added that there is no significant rise in home births to suggest that pregnant women are staying away from hospitals.
According to the data, sick newborn care unit (SNCU) admissions for ICU declined by 52.4 per cent – from 3,681 to 1,751– from 2019 to 2010 (March-July) in Mumbai. In the state, SNCU admissions declined by 28 per cent.
Kurla corporator Ashraf Azmi said the fear of visiting government hospitals, which were also treating Covid-19 patients, led to reduction in newborn admissions for intensive care. “People are scared that they would be asked to undergo Covid-19 tests and quarantine or contract the infection. So they refrain from going to government hospitals. For SNCUs, private hospitals are much sought after,” he added.
Dr Minakshi Rao, who handles family planning in BMC, said the entire health machinery was focussed on Covid-19 from April to June when the pandemic was at its peak in Mumbai. “Health services that were not urgent were delayed. From July, we started resuming these services. We have started sterilisation procedures. We have collaborated with NGOs for awareness on family planning too,” she added.
Signs of slow resumption of health services have become noticeable from July.
After a lull of three months, 223 cataract surgeries were performed in July. The number of immunised children also rose from 2,659 in May to 8,146 in July.
Dr Jeetendra Jadhav, medical officer in L (Kurla) Ward, said: “We started immunisation on a regular basis from July 1, but have to ensure that there is no overcrowding. We are also resuming maternal care. But we have to be careful, we can’t risk infection spread in pregnant women,” he added.
He further said that they are going to start testing severe acute respiratory and influenza cases for tuberculosis and Covid-19 to improve diagnosis of TB.
Officials said that health services were worst hit in Mumbai than the state because the pandemic first struck the city. The worst phase was from April to June. “Right now, when it comes to providing health services, while Maharashtra’s average may be better than Mumbai’s, but as Covid-19 spreads in other districts, the state’s average will go below Mumbai’s in the coming months,” an official said.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said BMC has started admitting patients with monsoon related ailments and soon, elective procedures will begin in tertiary care hospitals.
“We have removed 72 private nursing homes and hospitals from Covid-19 duty, so that they can cater to non-Covid health services,” he added.
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