Kerala

Local bodies to be the first line of defence against pandemic

They have been asked to identify buildings that can be converted into first-line treatment centres

Local bodies and private hospitals are expected to have a major role in the government strategy to control possible community spread of COVID-19 in Kerala.

The number of COVID-19 cases is now in two digits almost every day and often it is crossing the hundred mark, with some districts reporting over two dozen new patients every day. The Health Department is foreseeing a continuation of the trend for the next couple of months.

Buildings

According to sources, local bodies have now been asked to identify buildings that could be converted as first-line treatment centres to treat asymptomatic and those with mild symptoms within a 48-hour notice given by the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.

Buildings under the Health Department would be given preference as it would be easy to set up the facilities there. Ayurveda hospitals and community halls too could be considered for the facility.

As the government has cut down on the number of people under institutional quarantine and suggested home quarantine for expatriates, some of the centres identified by local bodies for the purpose could be converted as first-line treatment centres. They should be close to primary health centres, community health centres, and taluk hospitals whose medical officers and superintendents will be in charge of their functioning.

It is learnt that each local body should have at least one first-line treatment centre. More doctors and health staff could be appointed on temporary basis in such places and volunteers could be recruited.

Ground-level staff in the department had already been given two rounds of training and personal protection equipment would be made mandatory for them.

Confusion

There is, however, confusion over finding funds for running these centres though the government has said that block panchayats and grama panchayats can utilise up to ₹10 lakh and local development funds and disaster relief funds can be used.

Contribution can be sought from different sources too. Some of the local body heads in Kozhikode The Hindu spoke to claimed that they were yet to figure out how to go about it.

Apart from this, private hospitals too will be opened up for COVID-19 treatment. The government recently had held discussions with managements on the issue.

Private hospitals in Kozhikode district are already treating such patients, some of whom were from other districts. It is, however, yet to be clarified who would foot the bill, especially for those from poor families.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 1:08:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/stress-on-local-bodies-private-hospitals-in-virus-control/article31833998.ece

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