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Work in rural areas, Karnataka Health Minister appeals to young doctors

Doctors should be willing to serve in rural areas as 70 per cent of the population resides in Rural India, Health and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar stated today. He was speaking in 11th Convocation Ceremony of JSS Higher Education and Research Academy in Mysuru on Wednesday. 

Government has made it mandatory for the postgraduate medical students to serve in rural areas after completion of their studies. As many as 2,500 medicos will be completing their graduation this year. Doctors should be responsible enough to serve in rural areas on humanitarian grounds, Dr Sudhakar said.  

"Some doctors have appealed in the court against this policy. They should withdraw their appeal and serve voluntarily in rural areas. You are free to study abroad, but return back to the motherland and serve here after the completion of studies," the Minister advised the medical grads. 

"There is one doctor for every 11-12 thousand people in the state. A bed is available for every thousand people. As per the WHO standards, there should be a doctor for every thousand people and 2.7 beds per thousand population. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government has given approval to establish 150 medical colleges in last 6 years. Additional 17,000 seats have been added to postgraduate courses. The health sector has been strengthened by all these measures," explained Dr Sudhakar.

"The Pandemic has been managed well in India. The global Mortality rate due to Covid is at 3.8%, but it is 1.4% in the country and 1.3% in the state. Earlier, we had 19% positivity rate in some districts, but it is reduced to 2.2% now," informed the Minister.

Praising the JSS Institution, Dr Sudhakar said, "JSS Institution has been the pride of Karnataka and has brought laurels to the state at the global arena. JSS should grow on the lines of ancient Indian Universities like Nalanda and Takshashila. The war against COVID is still on. JSS has provided 1,800 bedded hospital and staff for this purpose and actively participated in this fight."

He said the government was committed to providing quality health care at affordable prices. Around 1.5 crore families in the state are benefitted from Ayushman Bharat-Arogya Karnataka scheme.

''60% of the people in our country are incurring out-of-the-pocket expenditure on health care. We have free health care services but quality needs to be improved," he said.

He stated that new medical colleges will come up in Chikkaballapur, Haveri and Yadgir.

#Karnataka #KSudhakar

Karnataka Health Minister mulls major revamp in 108 ambulance services

Karnataka Health and Medical Minister Dr K Sudhakar mulls major revamp in 108 ambulance services to ensure quality service across the state.

Ambulance services play a vital role during emergency situations. The current system has lot of loopholes and there is a need to correct these by adapting modern technology and global standard operating system, the Minister said and issued directions to authorities at a meeting held today.

"The State government is spending large amount of public money but the quality of service is not proportinate to the cost. Our aim is to bring in a world class system which will become a role model for the entire country. Officials have been instructed on the issue to give contract to companies which meet global standards while issuing new tenders," the Minister said.

The meeting was attended by  representatives of iDeck, experts and senior officials to deliberate upon the terms and conditions of the draft of contract and the directions were issued.

The contract must be awarded through global tenders. The terms must be such that only such companies which are technically and financially strong can participate in the bidding process, the Minister said.

The terms in the contract should be based on geographical challenges rather than 1 lakh population. An ambulance should arrive within a few minutes of receiving a message or call, the Minister stated, further adding that the call centre should identify the nearest available ambulance and allocate it. There should be trained staff who can provide first-aid. There should be app similar to Uber and Ola.

There was no competition when GVK was awarded the contract. Now many companies have come forward to provide service. The fact that more than 20 companies have participated in the primary round of discussion is proof of that, the minister said.

The Minister said that GPS, biometric and call centre system must be robust and there is a need to study whether a separate contract is required for vehicles and IT. 

"There will be better accountability if the period of the contract is for 3 years. There are several instances in the past where people have used other vehicles after calling several times and unavailability of vehicles during an emergency. Such instances should not repeat," the Minister asserted.

"We do not need vehicles which look like ambulances but does not serve the purpose. Every rupee spent should be useful to the public. There should be scope to cancel the contract if services are not satisfactory. Terms of the contract must be designed carefully in such a way that it does not lead to litigations," the Minister stated.

#KarnatakaGovernment #Karnataka #KSudhakar

COVID-19 antibodies found in 16% people of Karnataka

A Serosurvey by Karnataka has revealed that around 16 per cent of the people in the state have developed antibodies against COVID-19 virus.
Health and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar speaking to media in Bengaluru on Wednesday said the survey to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 in Karnataka was done from September 3-16, 2020.

This included the proportion of people who had COVID-19 infection recently and those currently having active SARS-CoV-2 infection. The sampled population surveyed were all adults aged 18 years and above. All 30 districts of the state, including eight zones of BBMP, were included in the survey. The survey was conducted in hospitals and selected population settings.

Three groups of the population which were covered include -- (i) low-risk group, i.e., pregnant women attending the antenatal clinic, persons attending the outpatient department in the hospitals/attendees of children or patients; (ii) moderate-risk group, i.e., persons moving in the community like bus conductors, vendors at the vegetable markets, health care workers, individuals in containment zones and congregate settings such as markets, malls, retail stores, bus stops, railway stations, pourakarmikas / waste collectors; and (iii) high-risk group .i.e. elderly and persons with comorbid conditions.

The study used Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and RT-PCR for the diagnosis of acute infection. At the same time, serum testing for IgG antibodies was conducted to know the protection offered by the immune response. The standard ICMR protocols were used, and ICMR approved laboratory network in the state was utilized, Dr Sudhakar stated.

Of the 16,585 persons surveyed covering the three risk categories, the analysis was done on results for 15,624 individuals whose RAT plus RT-PCR and COVID Kavach ELISA antibody test results were matched in the line list.

Giving a brief explanation of the survey, the Minister said that, the survey revealed that 16.4% of the people were infected in the past and found to have antibodies against COVID-19 in the surveyed population. This amount is 29.1% in Delhi, 16% in Mumbai non-slum settings, 57% in slum settings, 36.1-65.4% across five prabhags in Pune, 7.8% in Indore, 22.7% in Puducherry, and 32.3% in Chennai.

The national seroprevalence survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical research found a seroprevalence of 0.7% in the first round (May) and 7.1% in the second round (August-September). Both rounds were conducted in 70 districts of the country. All these surveys capture only the evidence of infection in the past (IgG). The surveys done in other states were limited to capturing information only within the confined limits of the metropolitan area, the Minister said.

Compared to other studies in India, the survey undertaken in Karnataka has captured total prevalence, which includes information on both current and past infections. The participants were included from locations centred around 290 hospitals spread throughout the state of Karnataka at the district, taluk and rural areas. The survey employed all three tests: Rapid Antigen Tests, RTPCR, and antibody (IgG), the Minister informed.

*Other Points made by the Minister*

•    The survey is useful in improving the quality of treatment and following the precautionary/safety measures.

•    Mortality rate in the state is very low and recovery rate is about 95%.

•    Government is willing to establish a rehabilitation centre for those who have recovered from COVID-19 infection.

*Highlights of the survey*
•    Out of 7.07 crore estimated population in Karnataka, the study estimates that 1.93 crore (27.3%) of the people are either currently infected or already had the infection in the past, as of 16th September 2020. 

•    The infection fatality rate due to COVID-19 in the state of Karnataka is 0.05%. 

•    The districts with a high infection fatality rate suggest that clinical care needs to be improved in these places. The present IFR is likely an underestimate. The overall IFR based on the first round of sentinel serosurvey findings is 0.07%. The IFR reported across other cities are Mumbai (0.05-0.10%), Pune at 0.08%, Delhi is at 0.09, and Chennai is at 0.13%. 

•    In summary, the state is passing through different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in the different districts. The surge in cases is yet to occur in the districts with the lowest estimated prevalence of COVID-19 (Dharwad, Gadag, Chikkaballapur, Bagalkot, and BBMP Mahadevapura).

•    The study recommends establishing the district-level facility-based sentinel sero-surveillance to monitor the trend of infection in the long term systematically. This can inform local decision-making at the district level to mount the necessary public health response towards the COVID-19 epidemic in Karnataka state. 

•    Lastly, a follow-up survey is planned to measure the extent and speed of transmission and evaluate the impact of containment strategies over time in the state.

#Karnataka #COVID19 #KSudhakar

Karnataka continues to witness more COVID-19 recoveries than new cases

Karnataka has recorded 3,104 new COVID-19 cases today with recoveries being 7,468.

State health minister K Sudhakar informed through a tweet that more recoveries have been recorded than new cases for the 17th consecutive day. 

He told people to continue the fight against COVID-19 by wearing the mask, ensuring hand hygiene and maintaining a physical distance.

#Karnataka #KarnatakaGovernment #COVID19 #KSudhakar

Karnataka Govt cracks whip against COVID-19 testing irregularity

A Lab technician, who was involved in the COVID-19 testing irregularities at Pobbathi Maternity Hospital in VV Puram, in Bengaluru has been suspended and a criminal case will be registered against the technician and an ASHA worker, Karnataka Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar stated today. 

Speaking to media persons, the Minister said that false negative COVID-19 reports at Pobbathi Maternity Hospital came to his notice through media reports.  

A team consisting of the joint commissioner and health officers was sent to the hospital for inspection immediately on the Minister’s instruction. An FIR will be registered against the lab technician who was on contract and the ASHA worker who were issuing negative COVID-19 reports, he informed.  

The Minister further said that a strict regulation will be introduced to rectify the loopholes in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and make sure such incidents are not repeated in the future. Following a discussion with the officials, a decision will be taken in this regard, Dr Sudhakar said.  

Dr Sudhakar said that as a doctor, the incident has pained him. It is a dishonour to the medical profession to make money through immoral ways, he added. The case has been taken seriously and will not be repeated in the future, the Minister said. 

#Karnataka #Bengaluru #COVID19 #KSudhakar

Drastic reduction in Bengaluru mortality rate, says Karnataka Minister

Bengaluru has seen a drastic reduction in mortality rate and a significant rise in COVID-19 testing capacity by 73%, said Karnataka Health, Family Welfare and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar.

Addressing a press conference in Bengaluru today, the Minister said that over 13.20 lakh tests have been conducted in Bengaluru till September 19. The testing increased by 9.70 lakh compared to last month and the numbers for last one month stood at a staggering 22.90 lakh tests.  

There is also a huge increase of testing by 49% when compared to other big cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Delhi, the Minister said.

"Mortality rate can be reduced if tests are conducted at earlier stages and treatment is administered soon. Currently, the mortality rate is at 1.37% and we have the target to reduce it below 1%. The mortality rate in Bengaluru is at 1.14% and we are very near to our target. The virus is under control and there is a reduction in the number of infected persons," the Minister added.

The increase in the number of cases is due to the increase in testing. It is not possible to reduce the test rate in order to show less number of cases. 
People should understand the increase in number is due to an increase in testing, said Dr Sudhakar.

Responding to a question, the Minister said that several complaints have been received regarding middlemen blocking beds in private hospitals and trying to exploit people. The government will take strict action against such miscreants, he stated.

The Minister also urged people to provide correct information while undergoing testing. By providing wrong information people are not deceiving government but themselves, the minister said.

Other Points made by the Minister:

•    Karnataka is conducting tests on a large scale, around 80 thousand RTPCR tests and 30-40 thousand antigen tests per day.

•    People should compulsorily follow safety guidelines during the festive season.

•    Measures have been initiated to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in flood-affected areas

#Karnataka #Bengaluru #COVID19 #KSudhakar

Karnataka Health Minister briefs on COVID-19

Delayed detection and reporting to hospitals by COVID-19 inflicted patients is the main reason for increased mortality rate in Karnataka, State health and medical education minister K Sudhakar said in Mysuru today.

Speaking to mediapersons after a review meeting, he said according to reports by hospitals, around 590 beds are currently available for COVID-19 patients in Mysuru government hospitals and additional 428 beds will be made available with in a week. 

He said measures were being taken for early detection and treatment to avoid spread of COVID-19. He said death audit on 193 deaths, predominantly from private hospitals are yet to be done. This would indicate the reasons for mortality, he added.

A total of 1,318 beds will be made available including 178 beds at Medical colleges, 250 beds at district hospitals, 260 beds at Trauma centres, 50 beds at 6 taluk hospitals in the district, JSS is providing additional 400 beds to add to it, he said.

Speaking on the Dasara celebrations, the Minister said that Dasara will be a simple celebration this time as COVID-19 is still rampant in the state. People can watch Dasara celebrations from their homes for their own safety. Not more than 300 people are allowed during the celebrations. People should follow the guidelines and cooperate, he said.

DC Rohini Sindhuri, ACS Health dept Javed Akhthar were present in the meeting.

*Other Points made by the Minister*

•    Government has fixed rates for private hospitals, government referred patients will be rendered free treatment at private hospitals.

•    Emphasis on Tele-medicine and home isolation.

•    New labs will be established for conducting 3,000-4,000 tests per day in Mysuru.

•    We are confident that virus will be under control within a week or so. People's cooperation is equally important.

•    COVID-19 has still not gone, but gone are the masks from people's faces. We should strictly follow the safety guidelines.

#KarnatakaGovernment #Karnataka #KSudhakar #Mysuru

1 Lakh COVID-19 tests in a day in Karnataka: Minister Dr Sudhakar

Karnataka successfully conducted 1,04,348 COVID-19 tests on Tuesday.

The state has been consistently recording higher number of positive cases during the last couple of months with tests also in the higher side.

The unlocking process has resulted in a large number of untraceable contacts perplexing the state health authorities.

On Monday, over 95,000 tests were carried out and the state had reported 9,993 covid positive cases with Bangalore City alone recording over 5000 cases. 

As many as 97 deaths were reported and in all 9,461 deaths have been recorded by the state since the pandemic broke out early this year.

The state government aims to increase the tests to 1.5 lakh per day, said Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar.

The Minister took to Twitter to inform that the state on Tuesday, 55,690 RT-PCR and other method tests were conducted across 146 labs in the state, and 48,658 Rapid Antigen tests were conducted across 30 districts.

#Karnataka #KarnatakaGovernment #COVID19 #KSudhakar

Karnataka Govt denies corruption allegations in procurement of medical equipment

Karnataka Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar today categorically rejected the Opposition's demand in the state assembly for an inquiry into alleged corruption in medical equipment procurement to tackle COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking in the state assembly, he denied any deviation in the procurement and hence the need for investigation does not arise.

There is no instance of corruption in the procurement of equipment for COVID-19 in the state. Not even a single deviation has taken place and therefore there is no need for an investigation, he said

While answering the allegations made by the Opposition members in the assembly on Wednesday, Dr Sudhakar said that market price varies according to the demand. We have procured PPE kits at Rs 575 in the month of July. During the initial stages, when there was a huge demand and there was no domestic production, we have procured 3 lakh PPE kits from China. Later, locally manufactured and ICMR approved kits were procured. Similar procedures have been followed by other states as well. Earlier, we were short of sanitizers, but after talks with distillery owners, the demand has been met thereby reducing the scarcity, Minister added.

"The baseless allegations by opposition parties have demoralised officials. We must fight this pandemic together and everyone should cooperate in this fight against COVID-19," the Minister said.

Speaking on the preparedness and ramping up of infrastructure by the Government to tackle COVID-19 crisis, Dr Sudhakar said that by April 9, there were 31 hospitals with 5,665 beds reserved for COVID-19 patients. "In the Government hospitals under Health Department, there were 3,215 oxygen beds to which we have added 15,380 beds increasing the number of beds to 19,045 beds. So there has been a 6 times increase of oxygen beds in government hospitals," the Minister stated. 

"Hospitals under the Medical Education Department earlier had 4,360 oxygen beds to which we have added 4,735 beds taking it to 9,095 beds. So the oxygen beds under the Medical Education Department has been doubled," he informed.

"Both the departments put together, we now have 28,140 oxygen beds which is 4 times more than what we have had before COVID-19," he added. 

Clarifying the issue on COVID-19 management, the Minister said for the last 7 months we are tirelessly working, medicos are working round the clock without availing leave even for a single day. Karnataka was a model state during the lockdown period. Considering the difficulties of poor and daily wagers we have lifted the lockdown. COVID-19 cases increased due to migrant workers from Maharashtra and other states, the Minister said.

Other highlights of the Minister's speech:

  1. Ventilators procured by the Government of Tamil Nadu are transport ventilators being used in the ambulance, it is not correct to compare our ventilators with that of Tamil Nadu.
  2. Different specifications and different quality ventilators are available for different prices, one should not get confused with the different prices.

Opposition parties are using the situation to get political mileage and this is demoralising officials and corona warriors who are working on war-footing.

#Karnataka #COVID19 #KSudhakar #MonsoonSessionKarnataka2020