West Bengal government to partner with critic in fighting pandemic

Migrant workers wait in lines for transport outside the Howrah railway station after authorities announced lockdown for two days every week in the West Bengal state, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kolkata, on July 23, 2020.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The West Bengal government has decided to enlist the support of a prominent doctors’ body that had been vocal against its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The West Bengal Doctors’ Forum was among the first to raise concerns over the manner in which the State administration was dealing with the crisis, calling for more testing, more protective gear for healthcare providers and for transparency in data. But this plain speaking had only ended up in showing Mamata Banerjee’s administration in a poor light, giving ammunition to the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

But that was during the early weeks of the pandemic. Now, the forum will formally partner the State Government in fighting the spread of COVID-19. On Thursday, a second round of meeting between the representatives of the two was held to formalise the arrangement.

‘Together in this fight’

“We are humbled by the government’s gesture. There is absolutely no point going into what has happened in the past. Everybody needs to be together in this fight. We don’t need pandemonium in the time of a pandemic — let me repeat that, we don’t need pandemonium in the time of a pandemic,” Dr. Kaushik Chaki, honorary secretary of the forum, told The Hindu.

West Bengal, at present, is recording more than 2,000 novel coronavirus cases a day and even though the spread of the virus is not as alarming as in other States, there are constant fears that it is just a matter of time before West Bengal too went that way, and that hospitals may run out of beds. The forum will essentially assist the government in streamlining the system so that the needy get treatment.

It will help the administration on two fronts. One, keeping the government rooted to ground reality. “We will be shoulder-to-shoulder with all healthcare providers, right from doctors to scavengers. We will gather information at the ground level and convey it in an unbiased manner — not what the government wants to hear but what it should know,” said Dr. Chaki. “This is something that cannot be achieved by sitting in offices.”

Mobile application

Two, it will help the government in creating an app — with the likely use of artificial intelligence — that will provide real-time information to patients about the availability of beds in hospitals. “The idea is to ensure that the right patient gets the right bed at the right time. The right patient not getting the right bed at the right time can only cause apprehension and, sometimes, undesirable clinical outcomes. We have roped in experts who have dealt with the situation in Delhi and Dharavi, and the app should be in place soon,” Dr. Chaki said.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 11:46:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-government-to-partner-with-critic-in-fighting-pandemic/article32183108.ece

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