- Hyderabad:With the government ramping up COVID testing and also vaccination, the 85 urban health centres of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) have become a beehive of activity. However, there is a glitch.
The health posts also double up as ante-natal care centres for pregnant women and post-natal centres providing immunisation to children besides being the first call of centre for any health check-ups. Every Friday, the staff check weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels of the pregnant women and every Wednesday, child immunisations are conducted.
With a doctor, a public health assistant and 4-5 Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), they are also functioning as COVID testing centres with people forming queues to get themselves tested. The numbers have only risen in the last couple of months even if this is being allowed from 9 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. only.
While the difficulties of being understaffed and handling the crowd could be understood, the staff here are a worried lot. Due to the recent COVID testing and vaccination rush, it has become dangerous for pregnant women and those with infants to be in close proximity considering their vulnerable health.
“The other day because of the rush, a pregnant woman was ushered into the COVID vaccination room inadvertently and an alert nurse noticed it. She was immediately moved to the next room for the general medical check-up,” claimed a health officer, declining to be identified.
This may have been an isolated incident but only pointed towards the issues which rise when every health activity is conducted from within the same premises, they claim. “ANMs keep in touch with pregnant women and also young mothers monitoring their health status for referring to maternity hospitals. People are scared to come to the health centres these days due to COVID,” they say.
Putting up the COVID testing counters in nearby open grounds or community halls and extending the timings till 5 p.m. to ease the congestion, are being suggested. “Daily, about 100 tokens are being issued for testing forcing others to return the next day and in the meantime, they could be infecting others. Allowing more testing and keeping this away from the women and child care rooms would help everyone involved,” explain health officials concerned.
A couple of corporators had successfully taken the initiative to take requisite permissions to move the testing facility to a playground nearby in some divisions. Health officials also feel if a referral system for reporting positive cases is established, the mild and moderate could be sent to designated isolation centres while the serious ones could be sent to Gandhi and other public hospitals, which could help reduce mortalities.