Mumbai: 7/8 high-risk COVID-19 wards have 10,000+ people with comorbidities
After two rounds of My Family, My Responsibility, experts say mega state-wide survey needs better accuracy, as it will help prioritise the needy when a vaccine for COVID-19 is ready
Despite two rounds of the My Family, My Responsibility survey, data from wards with a high COVID count show that a significant number of houses were locked or people refused to share their details. While the civic health department will analyse the data soon, public health experts feel that the data needs to be more accurate, especially since it will be useful when a COVID vaccine is available to the public.
In R South, R Central and R North wards (Kandivali to Dahisar), nearly 70,000 houses were locked or people refused to participate. In P North ward (Malad), over 37,000 houses could not be covered. In G South ward (Worli), over 13,000 houses could not be covered and in G North ward (Dharavi), 1.35 lakh houses were not accessible.
In the eastern suburbs, 10,265 houses in L ward (Kurla) were not covered, in S ward (Bhandup) over 28,000 houses were inaccessible. Some houses with COVID patients could not be covered either.
A health worker scans the temperature of a resident of Nutan Ayojan Nagar in Malad
Other data shows that barring R South ward, seven others with a high COVID count, have at least 10,000 people with co-morbidities like hypertension, obesity, heart disease and diabetes among others. While R Central, R South and R North wards together have 38,279 people with co-morbidities, S ward alone has 34,706 such people.
Several hundred were found to have oxygen saturation below 95 per cent and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) and were then referred for testing.
Increase the frequency
Dr Sanjay Pattiwar, a public health expert who has worked with the civic body in Navi Mumbai, said that while data on co-morbidities or non-communicable diseases are beneficial, several more rounds of the survey are needed. "There are limitations in such surveys and it can't be done just once. The virus has an incubation period of 14 days and to ensure that everyone is included, the survey has to be done repeatedly, maybe once every month," he said. Dr Pattiwar also pointed out a lack of online connectivity which makes data retrieval, analysis, storage and accessibility a challenge. He added that health data needs to be more accessible and has to be shared with health centres and health posts.
Prevent misuse of data
Pointing out that data can build population health maps, when asked about its accuracy, Dr Anant Bhan, researcher in Bioethics, Global Health and Policy said that the survey needs to have quality checks. "If the information is third hand or not verifiable, it brings in an element of bias. There should be a quality control process where 10 per cent of the responses are audited and are double-checked for incorrect information or dummy data," he said. He added that the survey should be carried out only if data is used effectively and said that it should be handled with care to prevent misuse by insurance companies.
The civic body has asked the state for access to the data to create tailored services for citizens. PIC/SATEJ SHINDE
With vaccine trials underway, COVID task force member, Dr Rahul Pandit, said that the data will be useful for other vaccinations too. "The data can help ascertain which patient should be given priority for all vaccines. While vaccine protocols are robust for infants, it is not the same for the adult population. For instance, adults should take a flu shot once every five years. This data will help achieve that," Dr Pandit said. He added that given the current trend, while the COVID vaccine will have to be given once a year, there is a chance that it may need to be given with an annual booster shot as well.
Giving health-based service
Senior civic officials said that the data for the statewide survey is still being collated and should be available in a week. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said, "We had approached the state government for access to Mumbai's cumulative data. It will be analysed by health department officials over 10-15 days. We will then figure out the infrastructure and support system based on the prevalence of particular diseases in the area."
Citing an example, Kakani said that if a particular area has many diabetes patients, facilities can be set up for treatment along with walking tracks for the public. He added that while the data will not be shared with external agencies, all civic health officials will have access to it.
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