Follow Us:
Friday, July 01, 2022

In the dark

A state government is at war within, patients die night after night. Accountability needs to be fixed in Goa — and elsewhere

By: Editorial |
Updated: May 15, 2021 9:09:31 am
But that would require those at the helm of the battle against the virus in the state to rise beyond petty politicking.

The tragedy playing out in the Covid ward of the Goa Medical College and Hospital illustrates the larger crisis. More than 70 patients have choked to death in the past four days because oxygen supplies at the healthcare facility dipped between 2 am and 6 am. It began on Tuesday when 26 people lost their lives. A day later, the High Court of Bombay at Goa directed the state government to ensure that there are no deaths due to oxygen-related issues. But the horror story continued in spite of the court’s intervention — 20 people died on Wednesday, 15 on Thursday and 13 on Friday. The grave acts of omission that have jeopardised the access of critically ill patients to the live-saving gas point to much that is terribly wrong with Covid management in the state — and in varying degrees, the country.

Look at the reasons trotted out. On Thursday, the state government informed the high court that “logistical issues were involved in manoeuvring the tractor which carries trolleys of oxygen and in connecting the cylinders to the manifold (a cohort of cylinders)”. Snags along the supply chain, as much as indifferent planning by the Centre and state governments, have played a major role in the current oxygen crisis. The inadequacy of cryogenic tankers, crucial to transporting oxygen through the length and breadth of the country, has been exposed. But the onus is also on hospital authorities to ensure last mile delivery. There needs to be an investigation into why Goa’s largest Covid care facility so comprehensively and repeatedly failed its critically ill patients. The significance of such an investigation extends beyond fixing accountability — though that is paramount. It could also throw light on the deficiencies of healthcare agencies, as well as their failings. Dealing with the virus will require such micro-level probes. A beginning should be made in Goa.

But that would require those at the helm of the battle against the virus in the state to rise beyond petty politicking. Goa’s Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has ascribed the tragedy to a shortfall in oxygen supplies while Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has blamed “mismanagement in getting oxygen to the hospital”. The health minister has described the CM as misinformed over the issue. Rane has also said that Goa was late by more than 15 days in imposing the lockdown and allowing full-fledged tourism was a major reason behind the surge of cases. Rane and Sawant are known to be political rivals and the imperative of fighting the virus evidently hasn’t made them put their differences on hold. Their squabbling has cast a shadow over the framing of anti-Covid strategies in the state. That the Health Minister wants the High Court to probe the deaths under his watch is a disturbing commentary on the Health Minister himself. It is high time that those leading the fight against Covid in Goa, and in the country, focused not on themselves, but on the challenge before them.

Best of Express Premium
UPSC Key-July 1, 2022: Why to read ‘Office of Chief Minister’ or ‘Sponge ...Premium
A century old, how Gita Press came to be ‘leading purveyor of print...Premium
Explained: 5 ways in which the iPhone changed the world in 15 yearsPremium
Explained: What unchanged small savings rates mean for banks, saversPremium

UPSC KEY Have you seen our section dedicated to helping USPC aspirants decode daily news in the context of their exams?

📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by