Healthcare innovation for COVID management

The Ministry of Railways making available a fleet of more than 4,400 Isolation Coaches with around 70,000 beds to serve as Isolation Units has come as a relief
Healthcare innovation for COVID management

The Ministry of Railways making available a fleet of more than 4,400 Isolation Coaches with around 70,000 beds to serve as Isolation Units has come as a relief for several states grappling with high COVID-19 positivity rates. The advantage of these isolation units is that the coaches can be quickly moved and easily placed at places as requisitioned by the states concerned. Innovations in healthcare services and delivery have opened new management practices in Covid management across the globe. The Northeast Frontier Railways has placed ten coaches at Dimapur at the request of the Nagaland government. The N.F. Railway has also moved 21 isolation coaches to Guwahati and 20 coaches at Badarpur at the request of the Assam government. With daily positive caseloads touching the 5000 marks in the state and fatalities alarmingly rising these isolations coaches are a great innovation in pandemic management. With the Supreme Court and the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister urging the Central Government to prepare for the third wave of pandemic even when the country and the states are struggling to flatten the curve of the current second wave, the demand for more isolation coaches by the states is likely to increase in the coming months. With reporting of over 4.15 lakh daily cases and close to 4000 daily deaths, the apprehension of the country's already overwhelmed health system collapsing in the impending third wave is looming large. The pandemic management will require more innovative solutions to overcome the limitation of the current management practices. The use of drones for the delivery of medical supplies has helped cut down the time required in the surface mode of transportation during the pandemic. The Central government has granted a conditional exemption to the Telangana government for using drones for experimental delivery of COVID-19 vaccines within the visual line of sight range. The Ministry of Civil Aviation also granted similar conditional permission to the Indian Council of Medical Research for conducting a feasibility study in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur on COVID-19 vaccine supply using drones. Apart from faster vaccine delivery, other objectives of using drones are ensuring last-mile delivery to remote areas that have logistics constraints and reducing physical contact or exposure to infection of the logistics teams along the supply chain through affected areas. Karnataka government partnered with a drone startup to sanitization of the whole of Bengaluru Central using drones. Successful experimentation of using drones in vaccine and medical deliveries will be good news for the northeast region where logistics constraints such as rugged terrains and poor surface connectivity, the healthcare services delivery in remote areas of the region is a huge challenge. Innovations of remote medical examination solutions have also gathered momentum as reducing the risk of infection is the prime objective. Promoting biomedical engineering courses in India for healthcare management can create a talented pool of human resources with new ideas to innovate medical examination solutions that will ensure better management of future pandemics. Collaboration with the IITs, Engineering Colleges, National Institute of Design will help medical institutions in the country to push boundaries of solutions required for better healthcare management. IIT Guwahati demonstrated how the use of locally available resources can make a great difference in providing innovative and sustainable solutions. The institute's design department came up with a bamboo bed and wheelchair for use in the isolation of COVID-19 patients in health centres. The region has huge bamboo resources and the institute claimed that 200 such beds can be made in a day. Application of such design technologies will also generate local employments besides fetching incomes to bamboo entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the chain. The country has 136 bamboos species while in Assam 42 naturally growing bamboo species are found. Assam Cane and Bamboo Policy, 2019 also allows transport and economic use of bamboo from non-forest areas and obtaining a felling/transit permit is no longer required. The policy states that plantation can be carried out either in forest land or non-forest land which has increased the scope of commercial bamboo plantations and viability of manufacturing bamboo beds for sustainable hospital use for finding solutions to higher demand for quick expansion of hospital beds capacity due to the pandemic situation. The bamboo beds can also help to augment the bed strength in primary health care centres in a cost-effective manner as raw materials are available locally and communities have traditional skills in bamboo craft which can be easily upscaled to produce the specially designed beds for hospital use. The challenges of battling the COVID-19 pandemic are enormous but innovative solutions have brought hopes of better management of the situation and cope with the challenges. Experiences of devastations in the current second wave of pandemic forewarn that managing the third wave could be an uphill climb. The efforts to find innovative healthcare solutions must continue to reduce the degree of challenges.

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Sentinel Assam