Patients with severe covid-19 disease need hospital care, intensive care. Some of them will need to be put on a ventilator. According to an April 2020 report of the Centre for Disease Dynamics Economics and Policy , there are an estimated 19 lakh hospital beds in India, 95,000 ICU beds and 48,000 ventilators. Most of these are concentrated in the metros of seven states. These were not enough before covid-19. Public hospitals have always been overburdened. Now with the pandemic, they are overwhelmed.
There are distressing accounts of exhausted healthcare providers trying to cope with the flood of patients with this disease. Without protective equipment and safety protocols, they are getting infected in large numbers. And health professionals faced with crowds of sick people and limited resources may be forced to decide who to treat first, and when to withdraw treatment. This dilemma is faced by healthcare providers across South Asia.
In April this year, the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Culture (CBEC) in the Sind Institute of Urology and Transplantation in Karachi, Pakistan published guidelines for ethical healthcare decision-making in the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan. CBEC is the first and the only centre for biomedical ethics in Pakistan
In this episode, Sandhya Srinivasan, consulting editor of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics spoke to Dr Farhat Moazam is the founder and chairperson of CBEC about how one decides the allocation of critical medical equipment with the rising number of COVID-19 cases and about the guidelines published by CBEC.