Many states are now focusing on children, with apprehensions that they could be the worst affected by the third COVID-19 wave. They are ramping up paediatric beds to prioritizing vaccination for parents of kids below 12 years and formulating children-specific protocol.
States are concentrating hard on paediatric COVID-19 care along with other measures like setting up oxygen plants and establishing more testing labs. According to ToI, the UP government recently announced that priority would be given to parents of children below 12 years in vaccination, and Goa wants to prioritize vaccination for lactating mothers with children below two years.
And in Uttarakhand, the DRDO has planned a facility to house mothers of COVID-19 affected kids in paediatric sections. Odisha would be allowing one of the parents to accompany the child in hospital. Focused paediatric treatment protocols have also been drawn up in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
The report highlights that many states are setting up expert panel and task force to protect children. Delhi government is forming a special task consisting of paediatricians, experts and senior IAS officers. Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Goa have also formed task force for paediatric cases. Moreover, the Jharkhand government recently reached out to experts in Delhi and Bengaluru to seek suggestions in fighting COVID-19 among stunted and anaemic children in the state, which has 43% of its population in the below 18 year category. Maharashtra is looking at training doctors to discern when to refer children to hospital or higher facility and Punjab is also looking at training modules for doctors and paramedics.
This shows that a large part of efforts to counter a possible third wave is centered around children. In regards to health infrastructure, West Bengal has given a one-time nod to state and private facilities to set up oxygen plants. UP has asked medical colleges to set up plants by June-end, and Maharashtra has chalked up a “Mission Oxygen” plan under which it plans to increase the current production of liquid medical oxygen from 1,250 MT to 3,600 MT.