Govt will lean on its socio-economic survey to find people with comorbidities
Findings of Delhi government’s socio-economic survey – which suggests that 2.60% of the population of the Capital have chronic illnesses – is being considered for ascertaining the number of people with comorbidities, who will be in line for getting the Covid-19 vaccination in the third phase along with people aged over 50 years.
The survey took place between took place between November 2018 and November 2019.
The first phase of the vaccination drive – meant for health workers—is currently underway in the city. Delhi has around 300,000 health care workers of whom 240,000 have registered for the vaccine shots. The overall actual turnout so far since January 16 (the first day of the vaccination drive) has remained around 54.5%, because of what experts attribute as vaccine hesitance. (updated)
The second group set to be inoculated are front line workers – which includes the police, sanitation workers, fire officials, teachers, and staff in departments which were engaged in Covid-19 management. Their number is estimated at 600,000 and the registration process for this category is currently underway.
The third phase is supposed to cover people aged over 50 years and people with comorbidities, irrespective of their age. While the government estimates the number of people aged over 50 years to be around 4.2 million through electoral rolls, they are yet to ascertain the number of people with comorbidities. Registration for this category (which includes both people aged over 50 years and people with comorbidities) is yet to begin.
“For people with comorbidities, so far, the government was relying on hospital data, records obtained from departments such as health and social welfare, and findings of door-to-door health surveys which were launched across all 11 revenue districts during the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings of the socio-economic survey will now help in ascertaining the numbers under this category,” said a senior government official.
According to the survey – which covered a sample size of around 10.2 million people, roughly half of Delhi’s population – around 2.60% of Delhi suffers from chronic illnesses that qualify as comorbid conditions. Of those who have comorbid conditions, 36.33% have diabetes, 21.75% have diseases that concern cardiac issues, hypertension and blood circulation, 9.17% have respiratory diseases, 2.33% have thalassemia, 2.02% have tuberculosis, 1.40% have leprosy, 1.33% have some form of cancer, 1.12% have haemophilia, 0.26% have HIV and the remaining 24.29% have been clubbed under “other diseases’’.
The report on the survey, which HT has seen, further said, “The highest proportion of diabetes patients in Delhi has been reported as 43.34% from (the) central district and the highest proportion of cardiac patients is 26.20% in north-west district. Further, the highest proportion of patients with respiratory disease is 11.56% in (the) north district.”
The findings of the survey have been uploaded on Delhi government’s website. While the Delhi government publishes an economic survey every year, this is the first such socio-economic survey with a much larger ambit beyond economic and welfare indicators, which includes schooling, nutrition, access to resources ranging from drinking water to mobile phones and television, transportation, housing and health indicators, among several others.
Delhi’s chief secretary Vijay Dev said, “The findings of the survey have the potential to contribute in several fronts of governance. Assessment of the report is underway. We are examining all aspects of it.”
The survey was ordered by Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in 2018 after three girls – aged between two and eight years – of a family were found to have died of severe malnutrition in east Delhi’s Mandawli. The project, however, faced delays because of the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 and Delhi Assembly polls in February 2020, said the senior government official.
Dr Suneela Garg, director professor of community medicines department at Maulana Azad Medical College in Delhi and member of the Lancet commission for Covid-19 India vaccination task force, said: “The findings of the government report will be very useful in ascertaining an estimated number of people in the category for people with comorbidities. So far, to identify people in this category, governments across states are digging into hospital records and departmental records. The government is also planning to take data from the Aarogya Setu application in this regard.”
To ensure that no person aged over 50 years or those with comorbidities gets excluded from the vaccination drive, the government will also be opening up windows for people to get registered on their own – both online and offline. “But that window will open up after vaccines are administered to front line workers across the country. The approval will be given by the Central government. Provisions, such as giving the general public limited access to the Co-Win system through applications and setting up help desks in government offices, have been discussed in several review meetings,” said a senior official in the Delhi government’s health department.