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Lockdown saw fall in cancer care, child delivery: Govt report

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New Delhi, June 21: Hospitalisation for child-deliveries and cancer treatment under the world's largest health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat, reduced significantly during the 10 weeks of the lockdown, signalling a "worrying", which requires "close monitoring".

According to an analysis conducted by the central government showed a 64 per cent decline in oncology services, while institutional child deliveries fell by 26 per cent.

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The survey known as PM-JAY Under Lockdown: Evidence on Utilization Trends, was from January 1 to June 2 and included a large portion of the lockdown period.

The access to essential services was a major problem during the first 10 weeks of the lockdown.

The average weekly claim volumes under the Ayushman Bharat scheme during these ten weeks were 51 per cent lower than the weekly average observed during the twelve weeks prior to the lockdown. The decline in claim value was even steeper, says the report.

There was wide variation in claim volume trends across states, with the steepest declines (over 75 percent) in Assam, Maharashtra and Bihar, while much smaller declines (about 25 percent or less) were observed in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Kerala.

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Among demographic groups, women, younger and older populations (under 20 and over 60) reduced their utilisation by more than men, young adults or the middle-aged.

Among procedures, planned surgeries such as cataract operations and joint replacements suffered a decline of over 90 percent, while hemodialysis declined by only 6 percent. There was also a sharp fall in cardiovascular surgeries. Of particular concern are significant declines in admissions for child delivery and oncology.

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