Has Dr Sudhakar forgotten that his brief as Health Minister is to cater to the needs of the entire state, not just the district (Chikkaballapur) he represents?
Is he the Health Minister for all of Karnataka or does he hold a parallel Health portfolio for the district of Chikkaballapur? The context for such a question is that the Health Minister, Dr K Sudhakar, has contrived to have 15% of beds in three major Bengaluru hospitals set aside for Covid-19 patients from Chikkaballapur. In the current scenario, where the second Covid wave has ravaged Bengaluru in particular, the move by the state Health Department — at the Minister’s behest – will deprive desperate Bengaluru patients of direly needed hospital beds. One can call this a case of regionalism gone too far – Dr Sudhakar won the elections from Chikkaballapur district to become a Minister in Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s cabinet.
TheBengaluruLive is not against Chikkaballapur-based Covid-19 patients getting treatment in Bengaluru hospitals, but we are trying to highlight the collapse of the entire health system in the face of the second wave of the dreaded virus. Currently, the situation is so bad that the state government has disallowed Covid patients being shifted from one district to another. TheBengaluruLive understands that Chikkaballapur might be facing a shortage of beds, but what about thousands of patients in Bengaluru who are at their wit’s end trying to get a hospital bed? Won’t the Minister’s diktat compound the woes of Bengaluru’s health infrastructure which is already overburdened?
Even bureaucrats helpless
The fact is that top bureaucrats, including IAS and even IPS officers, are getting numerous calls from within their own circles to get a bed for a Covid patient in Bengaluru’s hospitals. Many a time, these officers have given up and expressed helplessness in acceding to these requests. The situation is such that most people are trying to book beds through their IAS and IPS officers, politicians including MLAs and Ministers, and even media persons. Those suffering the most in such a scenario are the poor sections who do not have access to these ‘levers of influence’.
This brings us to the bigger picture. Since September last year, the state government was well aware of a second wave of the pandemic likely to hit by February or May 2021. But the entire state machinery slept over it and did not take any proactive steps to bolster the health infrastructure.
And now, as if to add insult to injury, comes the new diktat from Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar to the Health Department to reserve 15% of the beds in three premier Bengaluru hospitals for Covid cases from Chikkaballapur district. The hospitals — all near Hebbal — are Aster CMI at Sahakar Nagar and Columbia Asia Hospital and Baptist Hospital on Bellary Road.
The order, issued by Health Commissioner Dr KV Trilok Chandra on the oral instructions of the Health Minister, reads: “The number of cases of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the state is on the rise. Covid cases in Chikkaballapur district are increasing and to provide treatment and to bring down the mortality rate, three hospitals — Columbia Asia Hospital, Bellary Road, Hebbal, Aster CMI, Sahakar Nagar and Baptist Hospital, Bellary Road — are directed to reserve 15 per cent of the beds in the hospitals.”
No official response
TheBengaluruLive sent a WhatsApp message to Dr Sudhakar as well as to the Health Commissioner, but we had not received any reply from either by the time the story was published. We will update our story as and when we receive a reply from either of them.
We would here like to point out to anyone who thinks the Health Minister’s move to reserve 15% of beds in three premier private hospitals for Chikkaballapur patients is laudable to not forget the simple fact that Dr Sudhakar is Health Minister for all of Karnataka. Ergo, his only priority should be controlling the positive and fatality rates across the state, not just the district which he represents.
On Sunday, Bengaluru reported another spike of 21,199 Covid-19 positive cases and 64 deaths. Moreover, Bengaluru also has 2.81 lakh active cases out of Karnataka’s overall 4.21 lakh active cases. Chikkaballapur district reported 446 cases on Sunday and has 4,759 active cases. It has logged a total of 142 deaths (the district figures fifth from the bottom out of 30 districts in the number of deaths) since the pandemic broke out in March 2020.