While it is difficult to predict the third Covid-19 wave, the second wave of the epidemic across the country witnessed an increase in the number of hospital beds with a rise in the number of deaths. The situation was similar in Gujarat.
People had to line up for beds in hospitals for the first time in years. There was a shortage of beds in all the hospitals in Gujarat that raised many questions for the government. This is because the number of beds in Gujarat’s hospitals was less than the required number of beds.
There was a study conducted by the government’s policy commission that found that a district hospital in India has an average of 24 beds per 1 lakh population, with Bihar having the lowest average. There is only a hospital with six beds and Pondicherry has more average with 222 beds. The study further said, “District hospitals in India have a range of 1 to 408 beds per 1 lakh population. The 217 district hospitals were found to have at least 22 beds for every 1 lakh population.
The findings of the study are significant as it was conducted just before the arrival of Covid-19. The findings mean that the public health structure, especially at the district level, was inadequate when the country faced an epidemic outbreak. This was experienced during the second wave of Covid-19 when the country’s health facilities were inadequate.
The report of the policy committee as per the guidelines of IPHS 2012 also shows that the average number of beds in district hospitals in 15 states and union territories was less than 22 beds per 1 lakh population. The number per state was as follows. There were 6 beds in Bihar, 9 in Jharkhand, 13 in Uttar Pradesh, 13 in Haryana, 14 in Maharashtra, 17 in Jammu and Kashmir, 18 in Assam, 18 in Andhra Pradesh, 18 in Punjab, 19 in Gujarat, 19 in Rajasthan, 19 in West Bengal, 20 in Chhattisgarh and 20 in Madhya Pradesh.
While the number of beds in 21 states and Union Territories was more than the recommended number of 22 beds per lakh population. 222 in Pondicherry, 200 in A&N Islands, 150 in Ladakh, 102 in Arunachal Pradesh, 102 in Daman and Diu, 78 in Lakshadweep, 70 in Sikkim, 63 in Mizoram, 59 in Delhi, 57 in Chandigarh, 52 in Meghalaya, 49 in Nagaland, 49 in Himachal Pradesh, 46 in Himachal Pradesh. There were 32 beds in Goa, 30 in Tripura, 24 in Manipur, 24 in Uttarakhand, 22 in Kerala, 22 in Odisha, and 22 in Tamil Nadu.
The report was submitted by Dr. V.K. Paul was introduced in the presence of CEO Amitabh Kant, WHO Representative in India Dr. Roderico Afrin, and other senior officials.