MAHARASHTRA HAS diagnosed at least 9.07 lakh diabetic and 13.44 lakh hypertension patients since 2011, when it began screening and treating the two lifestyle disorders. These two pools will now be part of a high priority group that will be vaccinated against Covid-19 in the third phase.
State officials said while it will be possible to draw a list of those under treatment at government centres, collating data from the private sector might pose a challenge.
“We can ask private clinics and hospitals for a list of patients under shared confidentiality. But the entire process can be long and tedious. So far, the government has come up with no guidelines on this,” said Dr Sheela Jagtap, in-charge of immunisation, BMC.
Immunisation against Covid-19 will be undertaken in three phases in India. Healthcare workers will be covered in the first phase, followed by frontline workers like municipal staff, security, police, defence personnel, and BEST drivers and conductors. In the third phase, people aged above 50 and those below 50 with co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and chronic lung diseases will be covered.
Diabetes and hypertension continue to be associated as the underlying cause behind maximum Covid-19 deaths. Out of over 48,000 deaths in the state, 70 per cent were of those with co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, chronic lung disease and heart ailment.
From April to October, 90,671 hypertension and 73,232 diabetic cases were diagnosed. In 2019-20, 2.31 lakh hypertensive and 1.74 lakh diabetic cases were detected across the state.
State officials said while they could collate data on people aged above 50, the real challenge would be to record those with co-morbidities. For that exercise, each small and big private clinic, nursing home and hospital would have to be accessed for patient records, they added.
Officials also said most patients underwent treatment on an out-patient department basis and might not stay in regular touch with doctors. Dr Padmaja Jogewar, in-charge of non-communicable diseases in the public health department, said at least 60 per cent patients visited private set-ups for treatment. “Our recorded pool of diabetic and hypertensive cases may represent 40 per cent of the state’s actual load,” she said.
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope told The Indian Express that under ‘My family, my responsibility’, health workers were visiting each household for Covid-19 screening. “The same health workers will be asked to note down details of family members with associated co-morbidities. The survey will help us get an initial list of high-risk groups. After that, they will be screened and registered,” Tope said.