The million-dollar question here is, does Odisha have the potential to face the third wave onslaught when the Union Ministry of Home's Panel (National Institute of Disaster Management) has virtually warned of possible third wave peaking in the country in October and further predicted that the age group under 18 years are likely to bear the brunt.
Significantly, in order to pre-empt the grave impact of the likely third wave, the MHA panel has called for identifying the vulnerable children and teens below 18 years much earlier. Because, a rearguard action is not going to help, the panel warned.
As per the Odisha DMET CBK Mohanty, the State has already readied a total of 3000 beds for children in the State.
But will that suffice? Let's take a reality check.
Second Wave: Health Status Of Below 18-years
While the State Health Department is claiming to have put in place 3k beds for children, the hard fact is during May this year, when the second wave hit the State quite hard, the in-patient admission or hospitalisation of below 18 years in the State had surprisingly been up by a massive over 7 lakh.
A detailed glance of the data available with the Odisha National Health Mission reveals that this is not an aberration but a consistent trend in the State. In May 2020, the total hospitalisation of those below 18 years of age was over 59,800. In the month of May 2019, the inpatient in the age group of 18-years had been over 83,400. But this year, the numbers have been only extraordinary.
The Odisha NHM's May hospitalisation data for the last three consecutive years outlines how gigantic the requirement will be for the possible third wave when the below 18-years age group are considered vulnerable to the probable wave.
Protecting Most Vulnerable
The MHA report has suggested identifying the lot among the below 18-years who are at great risk. Explaining it further, the panel outlined that younger children, children with co-morbidities and ones afflicted with acute malnutrition are in danger.
Where Does Odisha stand?
When the second wave hit the State gravely, the number of severely underweight children in the age group of 0-5 years who had undergone a health check-up in May 2021 stood at a high of 2.23 lakh from a mere 3,273 in May 2020 and 6931 in 2019. More grim numbers follow.
- The total in the age-group of 0-5 years who were afflicted with Pneumonia during May this year - the peak of second-wave -10,129.
- In May 2020, the number was 491.
- In May 2019, the total count was 1,123.
- The number of children in the age group of 0-5 years having the aliment of Asthma in May 2021 was - 4,532.
- The tally in May 2020 and May 2019 was 398 and 720, respectively.
- During the peak of second-wave, respiratory infections in children shot up to touch 37,177.
- The figures in May 2020 and 2019 were 1,197 and 2128, respectively.
The Footnote: The WHO has categorised COVID19 as respiratory disease, and it has also notified that disease conditions like Asthma and Pneumonia will make one acutely susceptible to the virus attack.
Against the backdrop, the NHM, Odisha data showing a significant rise in such diseases, along with inpatient load, among children and teens during the second wave peak calls for a more nuanced action plan, feel NHM experts.