NEW DELHI: The government is working on a plan to resume normal healthcare services including outpatient departments, which had to be suspended due to Covid-19 outbreak, through a graded approach, officials said.

OPDs will resume depending on the level of novel coronavirus infection in an area, they said. So, while green zones could see opening of OPDs and elective surgeries soon for non-Covid-19 patients, hospitals and clinics in red zones may have to wait.

The initial focus will be on most crucial surgeries like cancer surgeries, officials said.

“We are looking at following a concerted approach to open OPDs services and elective surgeries depending on the lockdown condition,” a senior health ministry official told ET. “The OPD has got its disadvantages specially in red zones. We are of the view that emergency route is an ideal route for those in red zones.”

All India Institute Medical Sciences (AIIMS), which has 200 Covid-19 patients admitted in the hospital, is also assessing the situation and working on a plan to move Covid patients to one block and resume services in the other blocks, people aware of the development said.

As Covid started to spread its wings in India, several government and private hospitals turned into intensive care units for Covid-19 patients.

Even if there is room for other patients, hospitals are not willing to get them in unless it is absolutely needed and necessary, for fear of getting infected from the Covid-19 patients.

Regular patients are suffering not only because of the Covid infection but also due to the lockdown.

Take the case of Ajay Gandhi, 34, a cancer patient from Bihar. He had come to AIIMS along with his wife Sangeeta on March 22 to undergo colonoscopy on March 25. However, the procedure did not take place and the couple has been stuck in Delhi since then.

Another patient from Bihar, Anand Kumar Singh, 24, is waiting to undergo kidney transplant.

“I got the date for my surgery after waiting for nearly one and a half years,” he said. Singh undergoes dialysis thrice in a week.

Ever since the lockdown, he has been going to a private centre in Munirka to get it done. “It charges ?2,000 for dialysis. I have to walk down 5 km to get the dialysis done as there is no transport also available now,” he said. “To save Covid-19 patients, we will all die.

How fair is this?”

This is the plight of many non Covid-19 patients even as government officials claim that tele-consultation has solved the purpose to a large extent. “But it’s a fluid situation right now,” said the health ministry official quoted earlier.

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