Cyclone Yaas: 'Ensure health facilities are stocked with essentials', Govt tells states in guideline
The officials of the state and union territories have been asked to follow the release of India Meteorological Department (IMD) and plan in advance the evacuation of hospitals in the path of the cyclone.
The Centre on Friday issued guideline to ramp up health infrastructure in coastal areas on the east coast of the country in the wake of Cyclone Yaas, which is expected to make landfall near West Bengal and Odisha on May 26. The government warned that public health challenge already posed by the Covid-19 pandemic may be compounded due to health risks posed in terms of water borne, vector borne and air borne diseases in camps/temporary shelter settings.
The letter has been sent by Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan to chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and administrator of Andaman and Nicobar islands which are expected to face the fury of Cyclone Yaas.
They have also been asked to follow the release of India Meteorological Department (IMD) and plan in advance the evacuation of hospitals in the path of the cyclone. The order also said that the health ministry is ready to extend all the support required by state governments in managing the situation.
Here are the main points from the guideline issued by the health ministry:
- Activate the health sector incident command system and emergency operation centre/control room. Identify a nodal officer and convey his contact details to the health ministry.
- Activate health sector DM plan and the hospital disaster management plan of all the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, Andaman Islands, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. The emergency department preparedness in all these hospitals needs to be reviewed.
- The district surveillance units and public health teams mobilised for Covid management needs also to be reoriented on possible outbreak of epidemic prone diseases such as influenza, measles, acute diarrhoeal diseases, dysentery, leptospirosis, dengue, malaria etc.
- Health facilities, at all levels, in the affected areas including those identified for Covid treatment needs to be made fully functional with additional human resource drawn from unaffected districts.
- There should be adequate power back-up arrangements for all the hospitals, labs, vaccine cold chain and oxygen generation units (MLO, PSA plants) other supportive medical facilities. The availability of water/electricity and fuel for the health facilities in affected districts shall be ensured.
- It needs to be ensured that health facilities are stocked with adequate essential medicines and supplies to meet any exigencies arising due to disruption on movement of vehicles, due to high wind and heavy rainfall. Adequate stock of ORS, chlorine tablets, bleaching powder, and specific drugs to intervene for these diseases (wherever applicable), need to be ensured. This is as crucial for non-Covid healthcare needs as it is for Covid management in affected communities.
- Advance planning should be done for ensuring unhindered movement of oxygen tankers, especially on advance movement of empty tankers by Air Force aircrafts or Indian Railways.
- Functional ambulance services shall be assessed and requirements for the districts likely to be affected worked out in advance and mobilised.
- Medical care and public health interventions need to be planned for camps housing evacuated population. Rapid antigen testing may be taken up for population in camps followed by RT-PCR testing for symptomatic negatives of Rapid antigen tests.
- Senior citizens and those suffering from diabetes, hypertension, liver/kidney, respiratory disease, immuno-compromised diseases need to be specifically monitored with Covid perspective as they constitute people under high risk.
- As communication disruption is also likely at some places, the major hospitals in the affected districts may be provided with satellite phones/HAM radio connections.
- In areas ravaged by cyclone, the situation requires adequate focus on Covid appropriate behaviour i.e. "Do gaj ki doori" or maintaining physical distance, hand hygiene, wearing masks, especially in camp settings.
- The district and block administration shall identify health facilities in low-lying areas of districts likely to be affected. Any medical services including medical stores in the ground floor/basement shall be shifted to higher floors or other buildings to avoid damage.
- The funds provided to manage Covid, NHM flexi funds or that available under disaster response fund (as per norms) may be utilised to bridge fund requirement, if any.