Joint task force plans master call centre
The government of Karnataka and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have decided to form a joint task force in the fight against Covid-19. The task force, which will have representatives from CII and the state Health Department, will explore ways to quickly augment medical and non-medical infrastructure, including a massive call centre and modular ICU units.
Representatives of CII held a video conference with Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar and other senior officials of the Health Department in Bengaluru on Saturday. Kris Gopalakrishnan, former CII president and co-founder of Infosys, Vikram Kirloskar, former CII president and CMD of Kirloskar Systems, cardiologist Dr Devi Shetty, and CII-Karnataka chairman Ramesh Ramadurai were among those representing CII.
The task force will help the state government on various aspects, including technology, knowledge, sourcing of medicines and medical equipment, and software applications.
Unified call centre
Importantly, the task force will work on a master call centre for Covid cases. While the task force will work on the detailing, the call centre is likely to on the lines of the Aptha Mitra helpline set up during the first Covid wave. Currently, there are multiple helplines for Covid management and that is causing confusion among the public. This helpline is likely to act as a master helpline for all aspects pertaining to Covid.
The modalities of the call centre, including training for call centre executives, are likely to be carried out by medical professionals from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences.
Speaking on the occasion, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the task force would help the state government with respect to technology, software applications, know-how, sourcing of medicines, medical equipment and oxygen.
5,000 modular ICUs planned
The Minister said the state government is planning to set up modular ICU units to address the rising demand for ICU beds. Around 3,000-5,000 modular ICU beds are being planned in the state. Here too, the task force will work with the government on making these modular ICU units a reality. There are a few companies which have come forward to set up these modular ICU beds in 7-10 days, Dr Sudhakar said.
The Minister also urged the industry to channel its CSR funds for Covid-related activities. “The Union government has allowed use of CSR funds for Covid-related activities. I urge the industry to explore possible areas for CSR investments. More than the funds, the state government is looking for technology, know-how and contacts for sourcing medicines and medical equipment,” he said.
“Currently, 95% of Covid patients are in home isolation but they need to be monitored on a daily basis. Technology will play a big role in doing this,” he said.
He also sought the help of CII to identify and procure Remdesivir and Tocilizomab injections from other countries.
‘Rope in medicos’
Dr Devi Shetty, speaking on the occasion, warned of a potential shortage of doctors very soon due to rising Covid cases. “Currently, all the headlines are on oxygen shortage. But, very soon, the headlines will focus on shortage of doctors and nurses,” he said.
He urged the Health Minister to work with the Union government to augment medical staff by roping in 2.2 lakh nursing students in the country who are waiting for their final exams. Similarly, there are about 1.3 lakh MBBS students preparing for NEET exams, which may not happen. The government should deploy them in Covid management and incentivise them for this work through grace marks, or quota, or preference in government jobs.
Vikram Kirloskar urged the government to release official protocols for home isolated patients and hospitalised patients as there was too much ‘misinformation’ on the internet.
Kris Gopalakrishnan urged the government to look at importing of medicines and medical infrastructure in the short term to bridge the current shortages.