Shillong: Amid reports of children being affected by COVID-19 in Meghalaya, Congress MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh on Tuesday raised concern over the lack of pediatricians and pediatric intensive care units (PICU) in the state.

Appalled at the “candidness” of the health minister who announced that over 5,000 children have been affected by COVID-19 in the last one year, Lyngdoh said it was hard to imagine that there is absolutely no PICU facility in the state except for a few pediatric beds with ventilators in NEIGRIHMS.

There are just about seven to nine PICU beds available at NEIGRIHMS, Lyngdoh said.

Lyngdoh said that the current government should not blame its predecessors for not doing anything. “All these years, no health department alerted the government that this was the scenario in the state. Why weren’t we alerted when we were in the government? Why was this indication not given to the government to take necessary action?” asked Lyngdoh.

Lyngdoh also questioned why the state is still facing this issue over the years. “Is it because children have no voice or they cannot protest on the road?” asked Lyngdoh.

Stating that this is a very serious lapse on the part of the government, Lyngdoh said that the director of health services and other officials needed to be questioned on how many pediatricians are there in the state and the locations of these medicos.

“Are they wasting valuable training and expertise of being pediatricians by getting posted as district medical health officers?” she asked.

“What will a pediatrician do in the remote part of the state when his services are immediately required in places where government facilities for pediatric care are there? How many PICU facilities does this government have in the onslaught of a third wave that might target a new host which has not been vaccinated because there is no universal vaccination till today? Are we ready?” questioned Lyngdoh.

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She further suggested that the government should bring all qualified pediatricians to the district headquarters where children suffering from COVID-19 can be brought.

Lyngdoh added that if a pediatrician is located in a distant or far-off district or block, he or she will not have the facilities in his PHC or CHC to deal with such patients. He or she will have to transport the patient to places where there is pediatric care, she added.

Lyngdoh, who is also the chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Women’s Empowerment, said that the government after consultation with the committee has finally decided to send young MBBS doctors for short-term training to NEIGRIHMS.

“Why are we sending doctors who are temporarily attached or temporarily employed by the DHS? Why are we not sending permanent doctors to this training facility? We initiated it for them but again you’re sending contractual doctors. What will these doctors do after these training?” she asked.

The way we are doing things is what we need to question, Lyngdoh said. “I am happy that the training in NEIGRIHMS has begun. But who is getting trained? Are they casual temporary doctors that you have employed just for COVID-19? Why are we investing in the wrong sectors? We need to figure this out,” she added.

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