Health officials play 'ping-pong' over info on post-Covid ailments
It is sad that the top officials responsible for the health of the nation do not show any signs of seriousness about the post-Covid complications, RTI activist Kumar regretted
The Union Health department and the ICMR are playing ping-pong over information on post Covid complications, an RTI activist alleged. A Mumbai-based RTI activist has lodges complaint with Central Information Commission (CIC) for lack of seriousness.
Talking to Bizz Buzz, RTI activist BN Kumar said: "Amid global concerns over post or long Covid issues plaguing the patients, we sought information on the status in India."
The Department of Health Research under the Union Health Ministry gave a cryptic response that "the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had launched a call for proposals for research on various post-Covid complications such as neurological, cardiac, respiratory, sleep disorders, immune system and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)," he added.
The department said there was no other response and sent the query to the ICMR for further action. The ICMR on its part sent it back to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which in turn referred it to ICMR. The ICMR informed NatConnect that the query was sent to MoHFW, BN Kumar of NatConnect explained the chain of e-mails and RTI responses. Irked by this passing-the-buck, NatConnect lodged a serious complaint with the Central Information Commission (CIC) and the Health Ministry.
It is sad that the top officials responsible for the health of the nation do not show any signs of seriousness about the post-Covid complications, Kumar regretted. The casual attitude over the RTI response is significant as it comes in the midst of a concern expressed by Dr Sanjay Oak, head of Maharashtra Covid-19 taskforce that neither the government nor the private sector was doing enough to address post-pandemic complications, Kumar argued.
Kumar said as per the WHO, while most people who develop Covid-19 fully recover, it is estimated that 10-20 per cent develop a variety of mid and long-term effects like fatigue, breathlessness, and cognitive dysfunction such as example, confusion, forgetfulness, or a lack of mental focus and clarity.
Long Covid can also directly and indirectly affect mental health. Prolonged suffering and distress due to long Covid can impact psychological well-being. These symptoms might persist from the initial illness or develop after recovery. They can come and go or relapse over time. The condition can affect a person's ability to perform daily activities such as work or household chores.
According to Dr Sachin Gangawane, who treated several Covid patients at NMMC's dedicated Covid care centre at Vashi, several people complained of the post-Covid issues such as fatigue, weakness, muscle pains, sweating, loss of taste, sleep problems and even anxiety and depression.
NatConnect appreciated that the MoHFW last year issued comprehensive guidelines for management of post-Covid sequelae after expert consultations to guide doctors on post-Covid-19 complications and their management. "But we wanted to know the latest data, post these guidelines," the activist said.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, and it has identified evolving research priorities on Covid-19, under the National Task Force on Covid-19.
During the first wave, the ICMR said, cardiovascular sequelae not only occur in symptomatic Covid-19 patients but have also been reported in asymptomatic patients. Up to 20-30 per cent of patients hospitalized with severe Covid-19 have evidence of myocardial involvement manifested by elevated troponin levels, venous thrombo-embolism, heart failure and arrhythmias. Yoga expert Dambaru Pathak from Sotea in Assam, who conducts online sessions for his students across India including Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, said Pranayam and regular Yoga would definitely overcome post Covid concerns. The sessions must be done under professional guidance, he said.