16 Sep 2020  |   04:55am IST

Government needs to focus on saving lives, not saving its face

Government needs to focus on saving lives, not saving its face

Vijai Sardesai

On Monday we had the highest number of deaths in a single day in Goa. Fourteen deaths in a day in a small State, like Goa, is unacceptable. This is a clear sign that the COVID-19 situation is very critical and gone out of control due to sheer mismanagement, misplaced priorities and recklessness of this government.

A government which was, till recently, tom-tomming the fact that we were doing the highest number of tests per million should also now accept that we have the highest number of deaths per million. It amounts to more than 150 deaths per million as against the average of 58/million nationally and about 120/million globally. The government should not give statistics only when it suits its narrative of “Bhivpachi goroz na” or to show that everything is in control by downplaying the grim situation and in the bargain ‘killing’ innocent people due to gross mismanagement.

This is not about comparing ourselves with other states or nations and fighting them. This is not even about fighting among ourselves. This is about fighting corona for the sake of saving the precious lives of Goenkars. The government may not be able save Goenkars from getting infected but the government can definitely save Goenkars from dying. Saving lives is all that matters in this pandemic. This is the primary duty of any responsible government.

So let’s stop giving excuses like people are dying due to co-morbidity. If co-morbidity is the cause of deaths, why are mostly only the common Goenkars succumbing and not the well heeled?

From March 2020 when we had the first signs of COVID-19 in Goa, I have been cautioning the government and making constructive suggestions to tackle the serious pandemic effectively. However, the government was not interested and played politics by downplaying the serious situation. The prevailing grim situation is a result of putting their political health and agenda before the public health and welfare of Goenkars.

BBC and REUTERS reported in the last two days that many parts of India are running short of oxygen which is crucial to save lives. Do we want a similar situation in Goa?

The government has already messed up. Before it worsens further, we urge the government to forget about saving their own political face and focus on saving the lives of Goenkars. We are all willing to fully support you in this fight. Shed your ego so that we can help Goenkars shed the virus.

In view of the grim situation and rising caseload and deaths, I want to offer the following constructive suggestions for the effective management of the deteriorating COVID-situation:

. Get your priorities right. Focus only on controlling the COVID-situation. Leave everything aside. Don’t increase the caseload with your recklessness of opening of schools.

. Don’t distract Goans with frivolous issues and projects such as beautification projects, political surveys.

. Follow the Golden Principle: Test! Test! Test! Enhance testing facilities with another RT-PCR machine at the South Goa District Hospital.

. Streamline testing procedures so that suspected cases are tested without delay and the results made available within hours not days.

. Fully implement and upgrade the dedicated COVID-management facilities. WHO had suggested the following 3-tiered COVID-management strategy: a) Dedicated COVID care centres for mild cases; b) Dedicated COVID health centres for moderate cases and c) Dedicated COVID hospitals for severe or critical cases. It was meant to save lives by giving proper attention to patients due to their severity of illness and to see that doctors, nurses and other caregivers are not burdened. I suggest that the Super-Specialty block of GMC be turned into a full-fledged dedicated COVID hospital with all the required facilities and multi-specialties to treat severe or critical cases. If that is done then, parts of both district hospitals, in addition to also some parts of private hospitals, can be turned into dedicated COVID health centres to treat cases of moderate severity. The plan to have at least one dedicated COVID care centre in each taluka to treat mild cases should be implemented.

. Provide the above dedicated facilities with the necessary human and material resources even if it means emergency recruitment or procurement.

. Above all, be transparent, be honest with Goenkars. Don’t try to hide or downplay facts as that will lead to a false sense of security.

I also call on all Goenkars to take the evolving COVID-19 situation very seriously and act responsibly. Our responsible actions, as individuals, groups or institutions, can help to save lives by not burdening the healthcare system that is already at its breaking point. The coming two months are crucial for Goa. It is no time to relax and party. Until we have the vaccine readily available, or there is a flattening of the curve in Goa, we cannot proclaim that the storm has passed.

Goenkars, we can ignore the worsening situation in Goa to our own and our loved ones peril. If the government is not able or not interested in saving us, we have to save ourselves.


Iddhar Udhar