How Covid-19 became a boon for a battered Indian hospital

Indian authorities are trying to address the country’s chronic under-investment in health.

18 November 2021 | International



At the height of the first Covid-19 wave in India last year, the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital (JLNMCH) in the eastern district of Bhagalpur exemplified the sorry state of healthcare in most of the countryside.

Wards and ICUs were so swamped with patients and relatives that armed escorts went with doctors on their rounds, in case violence erupted. Doctors said when a second wave pummelled India this year, the government hospital with some 800 beds and meant to serve millions of people, barely pulled through.

But thanks to the misery the pandemic brought, JLNMCH is getting a new lease of life as authorities try to address India's chronic under-investment in health, especially in Bhagalpur's home state of Bihar where healthcare infrastructure is among the worst in the country.

The hospital has now set up its own oxygen generators that will meet nearly all its demand, hired dozens of new nurses, nearly doubled its ICU capacity, and linked hundreds of beds to piped oxygen for the first time in years. Its pink, badly-peeling exterior also might get a fresh coat of paint, the hospital superintendent said.

Work on a swanky new 200-bed advanced-care hospital, which started a few years ago, accelerated this year and is likely to be finished by the first half of next year.

"Covid has been a boon for us," Asim Kumar Das, medical superintendent of JLNMCH, told Reuters in an interview at the hospital. "Although it destroyed mankind and brought huge suffering, it has given us so many changes in the infrastructure of the hospital."

Das said the hospital was in talks with the state government for 200 more beds in the main complex, along with additional human resources as there was an "acute shortage" of doctors and paramedics.

Health infrastructure is starting to get similar attention across many parts of India, government figures show.


Heavily criticised over record coronavirus infections and deaths in April and May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, along with states and government-run companies, have provided funds for hospitals so that all of India's nearly 750 districts have at least one oxygen-generation plant.

Some 4,000 of them have been commissioned in recent months, according to the federal government.

The government has also pledged to build many new hospitals and upgrade existing ones in the next few years with the investment of around $9 billion - part of a bigger plan to double the number of hospital beds to two per 1,000 people.

Similar News


US invites Taiwan to democracy summit, China angered

1 week ago - 25 November 2021 | International

NAMPA-REUTERS WASHINGTONThe Biden administration has invited Taiwan to its ‘Summit for Democracy’ next month,...

Russia, Ukraine stage military drills

1 week ago - 25 November 2021 | International

NAMPA-REUTERS MOSCOWRussian fighter planes and ships practiced repelling air attacks on naval bases and responding with air strikes during military drills in...

How Covid-19 became a boon for a battered Indian...

2 weeks ago - 18 November 2021 | International

REUTERSINDIAAt the height of the first Covid-19 wave in India last year, the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital (JLNMCH) in the eastern district of...

UAE seeks to bolster arms industry to reduce imports

2 weeks ago - 18 November 2021 | International

AFPDUBAIDrones, guided missiles, simulators: the United Arab Emirates is on the offensive to develop its defence industry in a bid to wean itself off dependence...

Myanmar charges Suu Kyi with electoral fraud

2 weeks ago - 17 November 2021 | International

BANGKOKAPMyanmar's state election commission announced it is prosecuting the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and 15 other senior political figures for alleged fraud...

Unesco celebrates 75th anniversary

2 weeks ago - 16 November 2021 | International

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on Friday commemorated its 75th anniversary at a time when its role is more critical...

Namibia praised for transparency

2 weeks ago - 16 November 2021 | International

ESTER KAMATIWINDHOEKThe African Peer Review Mechanism has praised Namibia for its transparency during its review of the Country Self-Assessment Report (CSAR).At a feedback session in...

Namibians in Ethiopia ‘are safe’

2 weeks ago - 15 November 2021 | International

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKInternational relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah says the government has been assured that Namibians in Ethiopia are safe.A conflict between the Ethiopian government and forces...

Sudanese protesters mass to save 'revolution'

1 month - 25 October 2021 | International

Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali KHARTOUMFlashing victory signs, honking car horns and burning tyres, masses...

Botswana border tensions on the agenda

1 month - 12 October 2021 | International

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKThe tensions between the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and people of the Zambezi Region will be discussed at a meeting to be chaired by...

Latest News

10 apprehended in exam leak

9 hours ago | Education

ESTER KAMATI WINDHOEKAt least 10 individuals have been taken into custody by the Namibian Police after examination papers were leaked ahead of...

Man who cooked wife in...

9 hours ago | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITH WINDHOEKA hearing to decide whether former chef Thomas Adolf Florin (54) – the man who butchered and cooked the...

Game of musical chairs

9 hours ago | Politics

STAFF REPORTER WINDHOEKThe Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and Affirmative Repositioning’s (AR) 11th-hour announcement yesterday...

Global airlines prepare for Omicron

9 hours ago | Business

JAMIE FREED AND RAJESH KUMAR SINGHAirlines are bracing for a fresh round of volatility due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 that could force them...

Omicron variant could outcompete Delta

9 hours ago | Economics

ALEXANDER WINNINGThe Omicron coronavirus variant detected in southern Africa could be the most likely candidate to displace the highly contagious Delta variant, the director of...

EDITORIAL: We must fight together

9 hours ago | Opinion

Once again, the flimsy sense of control humans love to think they have over the world and their environment has been brought to a sharp...

Covid-19 undercuts HIV fight

9 hours ago | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKThe latest World Aids Day report has cautioned that the curves...

SPYL welcomes public enterprise ministry’s...

9 hours ago | Politics

ESTER KAMATI WINDHOEKThe Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL), which convened in Grootfontein over...

Things to consider when buying...

9 hours ago | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKSeeds are an essential input resource that a farmer must procure to successfully grow crops.Agribank’s technical advisor for crops and poultry, Hanks Saisai, says...

Load More