Availability of beds in government hospitals is abysmally low in India, and an epidemic like coronavirus can very quickly complicate the problem even further, according to a report.
TheBrooking's India report titled 'Is India's health infrastructure equippedto handle an epidemic' said thatalthough the number of COVID-19 cases is still low in India, experts have warned against community spread of the disease which will lead to a rapid and huge increase in demand for health facilities.
The report co-authored by former member of Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister Shamika Ravi pointed out thatthere are a total 7,13,986 government hospital beds available in India and this amounts to 0.55 beds per 1,000 population.
"The availability of government beds is abysmally low in India, and an epidemic like coronavirus can very quickly complicate the problem even further. An estimated 5-10 per cent of total patients will require critical care in form of ventilator support," it said.
Citing thedata from National Health Profile2019, the report said 12 stateslie below the national level figure (0.55 beds per 1,000 population).
These include Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Assam and Manipur.
Bihar has an acute shortage of government hospital beds with just 0.11 beds available per 1,000 population.
Some states do better on this metric such as West Bengal (2.25 government beds per 1,000) and Sikkim (2.34 government beds per 1,000). The capital city of Delhi has 1.05 beds per 1,000 population and the southern states of Kerala (1.05 beds per 1000) and Tamil Nadu (1.1 beds per 1000) also have better availability of beds.
The report emphasised that while the demand for hospital beds is being kept down by behavioural interventions such as social distancing etc, supply of beds and critical care equipment like ventilators need to be quickly ramped up.
"Additionally, excess capacity in private healthcare can be strategically used by the government and emergency plans of setting up hospital beds in army camps should be executed as soon as possible," it said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)