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Odisha Provides Leadership to India in Establishing Two COVID -19 Hospitals in Record Time

By Satya Narayana Sahu | PUBLISHED: 03, Apr 2020, 11:18 am IST | UPDATED: 03, Apr 2020, 16:05 pm IST

Odisha Provides Leadership to India in Establishing Two COVID -19 Hospitals in Record Time
As corona virus is highly infectious and spreads at an accelerating speed across the globe claiming lives and causing havoc separate hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients are indispensable. Keeping in mind such requirements Odisha Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik declared on 26th March that two stand alone hospitals with all operational facilities for treating eight hundred   corona patients would be set up in eight days, one each in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The  Odisha Mining Corporation has released funds from  its account to finance these two hospitals and manage the. It was indeed a trend setting announcement in the whole country. In the encircling fear and gloom spawned by the frightening spread of corona virus the announcement to set up two hospitals created hope and confidence among people that the Government of Odisha is determined to save them from this viral disaster. Such a historic pronouncement of the Chief Minister when the number of corona positive patients were hardly two and there was no death attributed to the virus brought out the seriousness of the leadership  to grapple with the menace posed by the invisible enemy by adopting preventive and curative approaches. 

Separate Hospitals for Corona Patients Recommended by Leading Medical Journals 

After  the outbreak of the dreaded corona virus in China that country built separate hospitals in record time to provide medical and treatment facilities in an environment which would not spread infection and prevent human contact with patients who are sources and victims of virus. Taking into account the highly infectious nature of the virus the establishment of such separate hospitals have been underlined by experts and medical professionals whose views and opinion have been articulated in reputed medical journals. The article "Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources in the Time of CoVID-19" published in the New England Journal of Medicine on 23rd March 2020 expressed concern in the context of the USA by saying that "Even a conservative estimate shows that the health needs created by the corona virus pandemic go well beyond the capacity of US hospitals". We have seen in televisions the grim situation prevailing in hospitals in most of the developed countries where corona patients do not find adequate space for isolation, care and treatment. Even the doctors and  health care personnel there are  extremely vulnerable to get infection from the patients themselves. 

Establishment of Separate Hospitals Part of  Focused Approach of State Government 

The announcement made by the Chief Minister of Odisha on 26th March for getting two hospitals ready in partnership with two private medical institutions demonstrated the forceful and focused campaign to crush the virus based on public private partnership.. The setting up of two separate hospitals for corona patients in Odisha when juxtaposed with the worrisome state of affairs  in hospitals of western countries validates  the visionary leadership of Shri Naveen Patnaik in a situation prevailing in  Odisha where numbers of corona positive cases   are still five only and there is no casualty so far. 

The heartwarming decision of the Government of Odisha that corona patients admitted in these two hospitals would get free of cost all medical treatment including their food and stay brings out the humanitarian approach in dealing with epochal corona threat. It is a an example worthy of emulation by other States. 

Two Hospitals Providing Free Facilities Recalls Madhubabu's Vision 

Shri Naveen Patnaik in establishing two separate hospitals in Odisha with 625 beds  for COVID 19 patients in eight days has emerged as the first leader in India to have done so. It reaffirms his globally acclaimed excellent bench mark of governance in dealing with disasters, both natural and man made,  In doing so he has  set an example for whole humanity that quality preparedness and preventive measures is indispensable for safeguarding human and health  security in face of corona menace which has become a colossal global pandemic. These two hospitals in combination with his first of its kind pronouncement on 13th March that COVID 19 that it is a disaster as per National Disaster Management Act of 2005 and ruthless social distancing must be practiced  to defeat corona menace make him a statesman to vanquish the corona peril. In setting such hospitals in fulfillment of his assurances to people that such separate medical facilities would be made available to those  infected with corona virus free of cost,  Chief Minister amply proves the point that his Government is caring and sensitive to the health concerns of people. Such a momentous step of the Government in this  exceptional crisis situation generates positive feelings among people that authorities enjoying popular mandate are rising to the occasion to allay their fears, anxieties and  worries about their life, health and wellness. It reminds us the leadership of Utkal Gaurab Madhusudan Das who while speaking in the Central Legislative Assembly on 21st February 1923 on cholera epidemic had said, ''The first thing that struck me was ......to make the people feel that there is a Government which feels for them, which provides for their relief, which is anxious to see That they are cured, that they are protected against the spread of cholera."

Hope Preventing Measures Would Defeat Corona Virus 

While acknowledging the applause of people for setting up of two stand alone COVID 19 hospitals in Odisha one is mindful of the words of Mahatma Gandhi who when requested to inaugurate a hospital famously said that he would be more happy if  its founders would extend an invitation to him to put a lock on  it to declare its closure after the successful completion of its work. It is hoped that  the two separate hospitals  established by Odisha Government in a record time of eight days and made operational with all facilities would become redundant not be used.  It is sincerely hoped that  the non-pharmaceutical and preventive measures  adopted by the Government such as social distancing, protocol of hand washing with soaps, eschewing the practice of spitting in public spaces and  lock down and shut down of almost all human activities   will eventually liberate people from infectious corona infection. Chief Minister while interacting with the doctors and health care personnel of these two hospitals through video conferencing very rightly said, "Although we are ready to provide better healthcare to Covid-19 patients in these standalone hospitals, we can win the fight through social distancing, hand washing and observing lockdown guidelines wholeheartedly.”

.The author served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K R Narayanan and had a tenure in Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Secretary in Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Views expressed in the article are in his personal capacity.