EDITORIAL | Will we be able to get through the COVID storm?
With fresh COVID cases in Meghalaya crossing the 400-mark daily since Monday, May 10, the state should be prepared to deal with any eventualities, as we are already staring at a shortage of resources.
Given the fact that the health infrastructure in the state is not up-to-the-mark, the continued rise of cases will put Meghalaya in a tight spot.
Although the government had earmarked Rs 820 crore towards health for the financial year 2021-2022, it is unlikely for the amount to be enough to ramp up the infrastructure.
In the budget presentation, the government iterated on spending towards early childcare, maternal health and immunization, and strengthening hospital and clinic infrastructure.
No special mention was made on a package to deal with the COVID crisis. The Health Minister, AL Hek, had recently stated that no fixed amount was earmarked for this purpose. The money would have to be made available from any sources.
To make matters worse, Meghalaya's main source of revenue - coal mining is on hold though of course, it is an open secret that there is a leakage in the revenue with illegal mining and transportation of coal continuing.
Tourism, which is considered as a replacement for coal mining in the state to boost revenue generation, is not going to be of any help for at least two years or more. The state can only rely on taxes -- state and central shares.
Last year, the state government spent over Rs 300 crore to deal with the first wave of COVID pandemic; the amount is likely to be more this time around, given the ferocious nature of the virus.
Other than the basic resources, the state also has to spend on procurement of the vaccines. Meghalaya needs to spend Rs 90 crore for procuring 30 lakh doses of the vaccine, covering a major part of the state’s population. So far, the state has received 42,000 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India, for vaccinating individuals above the age of 18.
We can only hope that the prediction of Dr Aman Warr, the Director of Health Services, that cases will likely dip in the coming weeks, comes true.
Then again, it all depends on you and me to ensure that the situation doesn't explode. Let us hope that with the extension of the lockdown till May 24, we see a dip in the cases.
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