[ Taba Ajum ]
As the second wave of Covid-19 has hit the state, in particular the Itanagar capital region (ICR), hard, the focus has once again turned to the health infrastructure in the state. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the state did not have a single hospital with ICU beds. Since then, progress has been made and several government-run hospitals have been fitted with ICU facilities. Of them all, the dedicated Covid hospital (DCH) in Chimpu, which as of now is a 130-bedded hospital with oxygen support, has emerged as the main centre in the battle against the pandemic. The hospital is run by the TRIHMS authorities.
Very soon, it is going to become a 200-bedded hospital as the government is further ramping up the infrastructure. Initially constructed as apartments for MLAs, the Chimpu DCH is emerging as one of the best performing hospitals of the state. Many people who were treated there spoke highly of the professionalism of the staff of the DCH led by its head Dr Tamar Paleng. The infrastructure and equipment are also of the highest quality. The state government has till now invested more than Rs 20 crores to convert the MLA apartments into a DCH. A massive oxygen plant has also been installed. The plant will have a capacity to generate about 500 litres of oxygen per minute. The hospital also has an OT, an ICU, a NICU, a dialysis unit, a radiology department, a central laboratory, a labour room, etc.
After spending so much money, it will be a massive loss to the state if the infrastructures created at the Chimpu DCH are dismantled when the Covid-19 pandemic subsides in order to pave the way for it to be given to the MLAs for accommodation. A huge amount of money will be required to refurbish it. In the best interests of the state and the people of the ICR, the state government should permanently convert the Chimpu DCH into a super-specialty hospital. Till now, Itanagar does not have a single proper government hospital, barring a few PHCs and dispensaries. One government-supported hospital is coming up inside the RKM Hospital premises, which will be run on public-private partnership (PPP) mode. First of all, it will be in the PPP mode; therefore, the RKM authorities will have more say in the functioning of this new hospital. Secondly, the RKM Hospital in Itanagar is located in a congested area. It lacks enough space for parking, and the scope for future development is nil. It will make more sense to convert the MLA apartments into a permanent super-specialty hospital.
The state government should propose constructing new accommodations for the MLAs in the future, when the financial situation improves.
In this battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the healthcare workers have been at the forefront. Many of them were infected with the virus and battled hard to survive. They have spent months away from their families and remained in the hospital premises and quarantine centres to serve the people. The state government should seriously consider granting a month’s extra salary to the healthcare workers as a mark of appreciation for their immense sacrifice.
The lockdown in the ICR will end on 7 June. The state government is under a lot of pressure, and in all probability will not further extend the lockdown. However, the cases continue to remain high. After the lockdown ends, the people will be left to fend for themselves. The best way to remain safe is by wearing a mask and avoiding large gatherings. Remember, this second wave of Covid-19 is deadly and is killing many, including the young, healthy population who were earlier considered to be relatively safe.