From 8th June to 9th June, Bihar saw a drastic increase of around 72% in the number of COVID deaths that took place in the state, it increased from 5458 to 9429. It was when Patna High Court recognized some irregularities exist in the number of deaths that happened due to COVID, the state administration took up the investigation in every district. It was a 2-level work with one team comprising the Principal and the Medical Superintendent along with the Head of the Department of Health of Patna Medical College. The other team had the ACMO, Civil Surgeon, and Medical Health Officer of the district. With this, the state released the revised death counts which were much more than the previous data.
We got to know from various sources that those who died (due to COVID) could be more in number. After consultations with stakeholders, State govt instructed dist admn to identify institutional deaths due to COVID: Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey on COVID deaths in the state pic.twitter.com/kpWtwV156c
— ANI (@ANI) June 10, 2021
Why did it happen?
The authorities have said that there are various reasons behind this “mistake” in stats, the first one being unawareness in Private hospitals about the government protocols. Also, many deaths that happen under home isolation never reach the knowledge of the authorities. There also existed numerous people who died due to post-COVID complications. As the Corona test of these people shows a negative result, they were not being accounted for by some hospitals. Apart from all this, as the hospitals are engaged in treating patients who are coming in large numbers, maintaining the paperwork would be a tough task altogether.
Statement by the State Leaders
BJP leader, Sushil Modi said that his brother died due to COVID in a private hospital and even that wasn’t uploaded in the records. Although many opposition ministers and politicians have come up with criticism for this miscount, there also exist few, including many health experts who appreciated the move. According to them, recognizing the poor state of the healthcare system is the first step towards rectifying it. Also, as the state government has announced an assistance of Rs. 4 lakh for widows and children who have suffered this COVID loss, more people could be covered in its ambit now.
नीतीश जी, इतनी झूठ मत बोलिए और बुलवाइए कि उसके बोझ तले दबने के बाद कभी उठ ना पाएं। जब फँसे तो एकदम से एक दिन में 4000 मौतों की संख्या बढ़ा दी।
नीतीश सरकार मौतों का जो आँकड़ा बता रही है उससे 20 गुणा अधिक मौतें हुई है।
नीतीश सरकार ही फ़र्जी है तो आँकड़े भी तो फ़र्जी होंगे। pic.twitter.com/18UPfYMolO
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) June 10, 2021
It is not only in Bihar that the number of deaths has been re-calibrated. Earlier even Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu had to do the same. Death re-calibration is done when either the count is wrong or the identity of the dead on the official records doesn’t match the one in the ID card.
This exercise shall draw the attention of the administration towards the rapid digitalization of the healthcare system. India spends only a meagre 1.5% of its GDP on the health sector. This is much lesser than what the developed nations do despite having a much lesser population. This not only leads to a lesser doctor-patient ratio but also burdens the same doctors and health staff to manage the official paperwork and data too.
The National Health Policy of the Centre is being extended to include medical digitalization via National Heath Stack, National Digital Health Blueprint, etc. which could bring the health-related data of people online for the ease of the medical staff. Ensuring that this doesn’t compromise with the privacy of the citizens or lead to cyber-attacks along with including the last person via information and awareness would potentially change the scenario towards betterment. A lot of groundwork has to be done to improve the medical infrastructure in totality. With some states recognizing the loopholes via such investigations, the urgent redressal of the problem might become easier. Only when the centre and the states would work in unison on this, we would not only be able to recognize the eligible beneficiaries for help better but could strive to decrease their number altogether as the harsh reality is that these beneficiaries are actually the sufferers of COVID which in this 2nd wave has devastated lives and livelihoods both. Nevertheless, times of crisis teach us a lot. Probably, dealing with deaths as genuine loss and not just a statistical figure that can have ‘mistakes’ is an important lesson to learn this time.
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