Bihar has reported 6,92,420 confirmed coronavirus cases which include 37,943 active infections, 4642 fatalities, and over 6 lakh recoveries. However, with the second phase of the outbreak penetrating deep rural pockets of the state, there is an increased risk of unreported cases due to the non-functional health centers and the absence of medical personnel.
There have been reports of these abandoned centers, owing to unhygienic conditions and lack of medical equipment and staff, becoming home to stray animals. Such infrastructural gaps have resulted in a lack of awareness among the locals regarding the virus and the vaccination drive. People are forced to visit 'jhola chaap' doctors (quacks) to consult for their ailments.
The government health center located in Madhubani district's Sukki village recently made headlines as it was reported to have been lying unused, accommodating cattle even in the middle of the raging pandemic.
"This building is functioning as a hospital just in government documents. The hospital hasn't been functioning for the last 25 years. Even doctors, nurses, and other staff have only been appointed on papers. They never visit the hospital. They just hoist the national flag at the premises every year on August 15 and January 26," one of the locals told ANI.
Another hospital in the same district had a similar fate. Sadar hospital witnesses waterlogging issues and garbage dumped on the premises. Unused ambulances parked outside the hospital have remained for a long time.
According to the Rural Health Statistics 2019-2020 report, there were 10,337 Sub-Health Centres (first point of contact between health care system and the community) in 2005 which reduced to 9,112 in 2020.
Meanwhile, there were 101 community healthcare centres (CHCs) in 2005 which came down to 57 in 2020.