As reported by Indian Express The Civil Registration System (CRS) data for 2020 includes a key metric that shows how difficult it was for people to access health facilities during the pandemic: over 45 per cent of all recorded deaths that year happened in the absence of medical attention, the highest percentage ever. The data also show a sharp decline in deaths recorded in hospitals and other medical facilities in 2020.
For several months in 2020, when the pandemic first gripped the world, non-Covid medical services were suspended or operating thinly in India, with 80 to 100 per cent of beds in several hospitals reserved for Covid patients. As a result, a large number of people were unable to receive medical care for non-Covid illnesses.
The proportion of people dying in the absence of medical attention increased from 34.5 per cent of all recorded deaths in 2019 to 45 per cent in 2020, the largest single-year jump. Simultaneously, deaths under institutional care dropped from 32.1 per cent in 2019 to 28 per cent in 2020, the sharpest ever decline.
These two data points do not indicate a new or unusual phenomena. The proportion of deaths in the absence of medical attention has been steadily increasing over the past decade, and the proportion of institutional deaths coming down. What is new, however, is the quantum of increase, and decline, this year.
By 2019, the proportion of recorded deaths in the absence of medical care had overtaken that of institutional deaths. But due to the pandemic, an unusual acceleration of these trends took place in 2020. These trends are expected to be reinforced in the data for 2021, when a large number of Covid deaths also happened due to lack of access to hospital care.