Chandigarh l Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday offered all possible help to Delhi in managing its spiralling Covid cases, even as he lauded the `unsung heroes’ of Punjab for their excellent work in handling the pandemic in the state, while assuring of full preparedness by his government to augment healthcare facilities to prepare for a possible second wave of the pandemic.
“Delhi is fighting a tough battle, and we are there to help if needed. I have said that earlier also,” the Chief Minister said, while assuring all possible measures by his government to prepare for the second wave in Punjab.
While nobody knew when the second wave would strike Punjab, experience of the NCR and other states/regions showed it was an almost certain eventuality, he warned, expressing the confidence that the Health Department and OTS employees will once again rise to the occasion to meet any challenge.
While it was the duty of the state government to support the healthcare and other frontline workers, many of whom had got infected and some had even lost their lives to Covid, the Chief Minister said it was also the responsibility of the people to actively partner the state in the fight against the pandemic by strictly following all safety norms. He declared ‘MASK HI VACCINE HAI’ as the resolve of Mission Fateh for the next few months, till a vaccine against Covid finally comes.
Digitally launching 107 Health & Wellness Centres (Tandarust Punjab Sehat Kendras) to boost healthcare infrastructure in the state, and provide health services to patients at their doorsteps in both rural and urban areas, the Chief Minister lauded the efforts of the Health and Medical Education departments which had made these centres a success story in just three years.
Exhorting the people to join his government in making Punjab the No. 1 state in Healthcare, the Chief Minister said his government was focused on strengthening healthcare facilities, especially levels 2 & 3, with the aim of saving lives through early testing and treatment. Urging the people to avoid crowded places and indoors, and not have large gatherings and social functions, he stressed the need to observe full precautions, especially washing hands and wearing masks.
Listing the various measures taken by his government to manage the pandemic, he said besides record increase in testing facilities and health care for COVID patients in L-2 and L-3 health facilities, Plasma Banks had been opened and free Mission Fateh Corona Kits provided to patients undergoing home isolation.
During Covid-19 Pandemic, PPE Kits, N-95 masks & other logistics worth Rs. 184.95 Crore were supplied to all the frontline health workers, while medicines worth Rs. 5.57 crore were provided to all the patients at L1, L2 & L3 faculties for Covid patients, the Chief Minister pointed out. All the Level 3 facilities were provided with Ventilator support & oxygen cylinders were provided at all Covid care facilities, he said, adding that R-PCR, Rapid Antigen & TruNat Tests had been made available for all suspected corona patients.
The Chief Minister said the new Health & Wellness Centers would take Punjab’s health infrastructure to a new level of efficacy amid the Covid pandemic. These centers would go a long way in helping the state government to expand its healthcare outreach to a larger community of people across the state. Of the 3049 centres planned in the state, 2046 were now operational and 800 more would become operational in the next two months, with the remaining to be opened in 2021, he said.
Manned by Community Health Officers, Multipurpose Health Workers (Male and Female) and ASHA Workers, these centres have been provided with facility of 27 medicines, 6 diagnostic tests and Tele-consultation facilities, said the Chief Minister, adding that 54 lac patients have been provided OPD services for Hypertension, diabetes etc.
Pointing out that Punjab ranks Number 1 in India for timely operationalisation of Health & Wellness Centres, in the ranking of states released by Government of India in the month of August, 2020, Captain Amarinder pointed out that the state had already achieved the target given by central government for year 2020-21 (142% achievement). The Chief Minister also spoke about the universal health insurance cover under the Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojna, the School Health Programme, free treatment for Hepatitis-C: 90,000 patients, financial assistance given to 25000 cancer patients and recruitment of regular and contractual doctors/specialist/paramedical staff etc, among other initiatives launched by his government over the past 3 years. Among other measures taken by the state government in this period were Mental Health and Drug De-addiction Programme, Free Drug initiative and addition of new ambulances, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Health & Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that the State Government was converting all the sub centers of the state into Health & Wellness Centers in a phased manner to provide quality healthcare services to the patients especially in villages. He said that since March 2019, nearly 55.8 lac patients have availed OPD services, and another 20 lac individuals had been screened for hypertension, 12 lac for diabetes and 17 lac for cancer (oral, breast or cervical). Apart from these, 14 lac patients have been given medicines and various diagnostic tests done on 18 lac patients, he added.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal said the launch of the new centres marked a historic day for the department.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan congratulated the health and medical education staff for their hard work in keeping Covid in control in Punjab, which had good recovery rate. However, she warned against complacency in view of the high mortality rate, which was attributable mainly to co-morbidities.
During the digital launch event, several health workers shared their experiences in managing the Covid fight and treating Covid patients. Kamaljit Kaur, a nurse in Jalandhar, said the state government had not only ensured all safety measures for the health staff but had also provided proper training. Dr Upender Bakshi, Lab in-charge at Govt. Medical College Patiala, narrated how the lab was made state-of-the-art within a short time to provide Covid testing for 12 districts.
Several frontline Corona warriors including doctors from the health department and Research and medical education department besides paramedics including nurses and health workers from across the state interacted with the Chief Minister to share their experiences to deal with the patients inflicted with Covid and suggested vital inputs to further improve the health delivery system especially in these trying circumstances of Covid pandemic.
Others who spoke on the occasion including Punjab Youth Congress President, Brinder Dhillon.