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Sunday, September 26, 2021

How Yogi Adityanath is fighting pandemic and fixing a defunct healthcare system simultaneously?

Ever since the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic has hit Bharat, a sinister disinformation campaign has been launched to spread lies, fake news and propaganda. In case of Uttar Pradesh, usual suspects are out; mocking state government with memes of Ram Mandir, Hindu festivals, Kumbh Mela, etc. insinuating that government is busy building Ram Temple and has done nothing for healthcare. Is it so? Let’s see.

Yogi Adityanath inspecting covid hospital in Noida

Maharashtra has been reporting highest number of fresh Covid-19 cases every day since many months now. However you would not see any article, commentary in media criticizing the Shiv Sena government as to why it is wasting hundreds of crores on building a new hostel for MLAs? Or for that matter; Chhattisgarh government on why they are building a new Vidhan Sabha instead of spending that money on healthcare?

Ever since the second wave of Covid-19 has hit Bharat, and particularly Uttar Pradesh, there has been a flood of articles, commentary, op-ed columns, prime time shows insinuating that UP CM Yogi Adityanath has failed to manage the Covid-19 situation in the state and instead was busy building Ram Mandir, organizing Hindu festivals, giving more importance to saving cows than humans, etc. Are any of these allegations true?

Fact is state government has not spent a single rupee on Ram Temple. It’s being built with the samarpan rashi received from Ram Bhakts all over the world. Details available till now confirm that the Trust has received more than Rs 5000 crores as samarpan rashi.

Yes, the State government started organizing major Hindu festivals like Deepawali and Holi in a grand manner after Yogi Adityanath came to power in 2017. These are once in a year festivals and the money spent on these is not more than couple of crores. In return, these mega festival events help increase tourism activity in the state as well as help small artisans and workers find employment during such festivals.

Third allegation regarding cows being given more importance than humans is as baseless as it can be. Fake news was published by many in media that Yogi Government has ordered thermometer and oxymeter for cows.

Cow protection has been a stated agenda of BJP not just in the Uttar Pradesh but all across the country. They have just implemented the same by banning cow slaughter and building some cow shelters. Budgetary allocations for such shelters are in public domain and can be verified easily. It will be certainly far lesser than the amount spent on building Haj houses and elephant parks.

So why is media after Yogi Adityanath even in these pandemic times? To understand this, we will have to go back to the year when Yogi Adityanath took charge of the state.

It’s not that predecessors of Yogi Adityanath built great hospitals and worked any better to improve the healthcare infrastructure of the state. In fact, Akhilesh Yadav was busy building Haj houses and organizing Bollywood dance nights in Saifaee, his ancestral village. He was following into the footsteps of his predecessor Mayawati, who built huge elephant parks & her own statues in Lucknow and Noida during her tenure.

All in all Yogi Adityanath got a totally defunct, crumbling healthcare system; when he took over from Akhilesh Yadav in 2017.

Barely months after taking over as CM, Yogi Adityanath faced first major media onslaught over deaths of children in his constituency Gorakhpur due to Encephalitis. It was alleged that the deaths happened due to non availability of oxygen. It was not true; however, media suddenly discovered that hundreds of children die every year in Purvanchal because of Japanese Encephalitis.

A brutal disinformation campaign was launched by local as well as international media. Encephalitis deaths were happening since decades, however; media presented as if it has happened for the first time in the state. Questions started as to how a saffron wearing Yogi can manage a state as big as Uttar Pradesh. He should resign immediately and go back to his Matha – shouted media pundits.

Fortunately, Yogi was used to such sinister media campaigns from the days he started his political journey as Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur. He did not waste time on reacting to media propaganda and got down to work.

He had been raising the Encephalitis issue in the Parliament for many years. But now as CM he had got the opportunity to eradicate this abhishapa from Uttar Pradesh.

A sustained sanitization campaign was run in all affected districts. Dedicated vaccination program ‘DASTAK’ was launched for all children below five years of age in the region. The vaccination program is now in its fourth year and administration has been able to vaccinate most of children in the area. Drinking contaminated water was one of the reasons for spread of this disease in the region. Government ensured clean drinking water for families in the affected districts.

These efforts resulted in drastic reduction of deaths due to Encephalitis. From thousands of deaths few years ago, deaths have come down to double digits this year, over 90% reduction – huge achievement for a state facing this curse since decades.

However, same media which gloated over children’s deaths is now completely silent when Yogi Adityanath has almost eradicated this deadly disease from Uttar Pradesh.

But then that is how the usual suspects in the media operate. That is their standard operating procedure – lie big and don’t retract even if caught.

Last year they got another opportunity when the country faced first wave of covid-19 crisis. The pandemic forced lockdown came with a huge migrant crisis for states like Uttar Pradesh. Some states like Delhi, Punjab and Maharashtra completely mismanaged the lockdown situation, resulting in mass exodus of migrant workers from these states. Ruling establishment in Delhi was found to be involved in deliberately creating an atmosphere of fear so that migrant workers leave the city and go back to their hometown.

Media propagandists suddenly got excited and started running the campaign that Uttar Pradesh will not be able to manage the pandemic and migrant crisis.

Fake propaganda about Kerala model, Delhi model of covid-19 management were pushed in order to somehow show that UP government is failing its people and country.

The reality was totally opposite of what was shown on prime time television shows and front page headlines of newspapers. UP was not only able to contain the spread of covid-19 but it also managed the migrant crisis very well despite being the most populous state with a historically sub standard healthcare system.

The UP model of contact tracing, containment zones and enforced covid-19 appropriate behavior resulted in controlling the spread of the virus sooner than most people expected. The state not only contained the virus spread but was also able to provide food, shelter, economic support and employment to most of its population including large number of migrant workers.

But then media being media, they never spoke about this success story. So much so that even after international praise of UP government for covid-19 management, they kept quite as if they were not happy that UP came out victorious from pandemic crisis. Same media which was amplifying smallest of procedural lapse by UP administration, went completely silent after the turn-around of the situation.

But then that is how the usual suspects in the media operate. That is their standard operating procedure – lie big and don’t retract even if caught.

They have now got yet another opportunity in the form of second wave of Covid-19 in the state. Yet again, they have started the same propaganda and disinformation campaign mocking the state government with same old jibes of Ram Temple etc.

One thing we have to give to the left liberal propagandists – they relentlessly pursue their agenda till the time the narrative is established according to their agenda, does not matter how many lies they have to speak for the same.
Suddenly, UP has once again become the focus state of entire shame-stream media. Smallest of issues are being amplified as if finally they have got the opportunity they were waiting for all these months.

Let us see how, Yogi Adityanath is fighting one crisis after other with a defunct healthcare system gifted to him by previous governments; and simultaneously also trying to build the medical infrastructure required for a big state like Uttar Pradesh?

First, let us understand that healthcare infrastructure does not only mean building hospitals with bricks and mortar and buying equipments. The most important element of creating a world class healthcare system is the human resources required to run that system – the doctors, nurses, paramedics, technicians, etc.

State government is working on a very ambitious plan of opening medical college in each of 75 districts of the state. So far, they have been able to establish it in 14 districts – six operational and 8 ready to start by July this year. In 16 other districts, medical colleges are under construction. In total, Yogi Government has been able to establish new medical colleges in 30 districts, whereas before 2017 UP had only 12 medical colleges.

From 12 to 42 in just 4 years – imagine the speed with which administration has worked. The new medical colleges will add almost 4000 MBBS seats every year for medical aspirants thereby not only bridging the gap in demand and supply of medical seats but providing the much needed human capital to the state’s healthcare system in coming years.

Second, these medical colleges are attached to the government hospital of the respective districts. This means the infrastructure of these hospitals are also being upgraded massively. New buildings with enhanced bed capacity, new wards and advanced medical equipments – everything required to upgrade district hospitals is being planned and executed rapidly. In coming years, these hospitals will be able to treat majority of the patients from those districts. This will help the government to reduce the load from overburdened major medical centers like Varanasi, Lucknow etc.

Third, as we know that creating something new from scratch takes time irrespective of how fast you desire to achieve it. So in that situation, you have to leverage the existing system to the fullest till the time you achieve creating the desired infrastructure. Yogi Government is doing exactly the same thing.

Uttar Pradesh has been at the forefront of implementing the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY – Ayushman Bharat) in the state ever since it was launched by Prime Minister Modi in 2018. State has remained best performing among all states in implementation of PMJAY scheme, be it number of golden card issued or number of hospitalization benefit provided to the beneficiaries.

The scheme not only provides medical cover of up-to five lakhs to each beneficiary family, it also allows the beneficiary to avail the best healthcare facility available in the state either in public or private sector. Since public heath care facilities will take some more time for to be completely fixed by the government, it has empaneled many private hospitals under the scheme. This is to leverage the existing facilities available in the private sector till the time government is able to create a better public health care system. This is beneficial to both, state government as well as private hospitals – while government gets to offer better healthcare to its people, private hospitals get an additional source of revenue generation.

Additionally, state has got two AIIMS from central government – one in Raebareli and one in Gorakhpur. AIIMS Raebareli was approved by UPA government in 2009 & established in 2013; however OPD facility could start only in 2018 under Yogi Government. In comparison, Gorakhpur AIIMS, which was approved by NDA government in 2014, started its OPD in 2019 itself. Efforts are on to complete both the institutes as soon as possible. Both the AIIMS are expected to be fully functional this year.

A new medical university has also been established in the state– Atal Behari Vajpayee Medical University (ABVMU). The university was established in the year 2018 and foundation stone was laid by PM Modi in 2019. This will provide affiliation to all public and private medical, nursing and dental colleges in the state. The government aims to make ABVMU as the hub of medical education in the state.

This is not all. Apart from working on the needs of secondary and tertiary health care facilities, state in coordination with central government is working on to upgrade more than 8000 primary health centers into community health and wellness centers. These centers are majorly in rural areas and will cater to primary health care needs of people there. Project is completed in more than 30 districts and in rest of the districts it’s in advanced stage of completion. Once operational, this will not only help to provide medical facility in initial stage of falling sick, but will also help to reduce the secondary and tertiary care interventions.

In the ongoing second wave of Covid-19 also, state has been able to quickly ramp up medical facilities to fight the pandemic. Uttar Pradesh was the first state to use Oxygen Express train service of Indian Railways and got medical liquid oxygen moved from other states to Lucknow quickly. Chief Minister sent state aircraft to Ahmedabad to urgently bring Remdesivir injections. Thousands of oxygen beds, ICU beds and ventilator beds have been added in last 3 weeks. Efforts are on to add more hospital beds equipped with oxygen and ventilators.

State has also moved swiftly to establish oxygen generation plants in all major government hospitals across the state. Some of these are already made functional.

On vaccination front, state was first to announce free vaccination for 18-44 age group under phase-3 of Covid-19 vaccination program. State government quickly placed order for 100 million vaccines with Bharatiya manufacturers. It was among the very few states which began vaccination of 18-44 age group from May 1st. Uttar Pradesh is also the first state to issue global tender for procurement of Covid-19 vaccines. It has issued short term tender for buying 400 million vaccine doses from global manufacturers.

Experts feared that after Panchayat elections, state will see exponential growth in number of fresh infections. To mitigate that risk, state pro-actively initiated screening and testing in all the revenue villages of the state. Administration is distributing free medicines to the affected people in villages; schools have been converted to isolation centers.
These efforts have resulted in reduction of fresh infections and improvement in number of recoveries.

After 30th April, active cases in the state have come down by more than 65000. If this trend continues for couple of more weeks, the second wave of pandemic could be well under control. However, the real change in state’s healthcare infrastructure will be visible in few years from now.

With new medical colleges, government hospitals, wellness centers, AIIMS, medical university- all becoming functional in coming years – the second term of Yogi Adityanath, which he will get in all probability, will witness the real change brought in by his government in its current term.

-by Akhand Pratap Singh


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