Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Insecurity In Medical Healthcare

Updated: October 8, 2015 6:00 am

Like any other system in the country, public health system too is in a grave crisis. Quality medical treatment has become a big worry and has created a sense of insecurity for the common man. He has lost faith in the government hospitals because he knows that there are big queues in the OPDs. A doctor hardly spends two minutes per patient

Avinash, a seven-year-old boy of Delhi, was suffering from dengue and died for want of timely medical health care on 09-09-2015. The parents, a young couple, had to take the suffering boy to a chain of five private hospitals, who refused to admit him on the pretext of shortage of beds. Finally, the boy was brought to Batra Hospital. But it was too late. The doctors could not save the boy as his condition had deteriorated beyond recovery during the transit period of seven hours. The distraught couple was shocked beyond measure and committed suicide and left this insensitive world along with their off-spring.

The news came in all the newspapers on the front page the very next day and created only a small commotion. The electronic media which has built a reputation for orchestrating trivial issues (Sheena murder case was covered for eight days at a stretch.) was conspicuous by its silence. Only two channels raised the issue through a panel discussion five days after the episode. Had it been a case of police negligence, Arvind Kejriwal would have been the first person to raise the alarm against Delhi Police and other politicians would join him in the blame game. Now there is no body to shed tears for Avinash and his family.

Another boy, Aman Sharma, six years of age, also died in similar circumstances on 15th September. Delhi government, which considers itself to be the sole champion of the common man, simply served a show cause notice to the five hospitals though seriousness of medical negligence and apathy on the part of five hospitals required registration of an FIR. Delhi government has allotted lands to private hospitals at a nominal cost with the advisory that 20 per cent beds will be reserved for poor people. But the government never bothers to check the implementation of this order. Shashi Tharoor was very right when he recently said in a lecture at I.I.T. Delhi, “India is the biggest democracy in the world but also a land of utmost hypocrisy.” Looking at the collapse of various systems and sub-systems in the public domain, one feels Indian democracy has now remained of the powerful, for the powerful and by the powerless. Arnab Goswami rightly commented in his Times Now channel (14-9-2015), “Had Avinash been the son of a politician or a bureaucrat, he would have been treated with utmost care and free of charge by every hospital.”

Like any other system in the country, public health system too is in a grave crisis. Quality medical treatment has become a big worry and has created a sense of insecurity for the common man. He has lost faith in the government hospitals because he knows that there are big queues in the OPDs. A doctor hardly spends two minutes per patient. Many doctors have passed from ill-equipped private medical colleges and some are from reservation category. The surgical instruments are not safe. Beds are inadequate. Many patients lie on the floors leading to serious cross infections. Some of the machines are out of order. Bathrooms are stinking. Post-operative health care is inadequate. There is unethical tie-up between the doctors and the medical shops located nearby. The treatment by ruling elites in private hospitals (rather than our top medical institutes) has further caused this trust deficit. A.B.Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India, got his knees replaced in Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai. The surgeon was called from US. Sonia Gandhi went to Ganga Ram Hospital for the treatment of her respiratory problems. Wife of P.S. Badal, the CM of Punjab, died in a US hospital. An MLA from Haryana Assembly once got admitted in Medical College, Rohtak because of a heart ailment. The Chief Minister admonished him and asked him to go to a private hospital in Gurgaon. You can cite innumerable examples of this kind. However, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister of India, got his by-pass surgery in AIIMS.

Simultaneously, the common man is also afraid of going to a private hospital because of heavy consultation fee, high cost of tests and surgical operations, unnecessary, unwanted tests and surgeries and prolonged stay in the hospital. Now he is standing at a crossroads and does not know where to go for a safe and affordable treatment. The government and the bureaucracy consist of very thick skinned people. They just don’t bother to know or look at the plight of poor people in the ill-equipped hospitals and take remedial measures.

Now many people suggest that if politicians and bureaucrats are made to take treatment in government hospitals only (or in private hospitals at their own cost), the conditions of government hospitals will improve overnight. There is lot of merit in this statement. UP High Court has recently passed an order that wards of politicians and government servants of UP be made to study in government schools only. Let us hope that somebody files a PIL writ in the Supreme Court and the Hon’ble Court passes a similar order for government. servants to take medical treatment in the government hospitals only.

There is another big issue which relates to healthcare of all section of society. In India, 98 per cent people suffer from medical or health illiteracy and only qualified doctors are fully health educated. This is because proper health education is not imparted at any level in university and colleges. I know many highly educated people who have very foggy ideas about the terms like infectious or communicable or a viral disease. the fact of the matter is that every communicable disease has two sides that is preventive and curative. All state governments lay more stress on curative than preventive. If they ensure 100 per cent sanitation in all the streets and people are educated about breeding on hiding places of Aedes Agypty mosquito, dengue disease will be almost wiped out. Administration works untiringly only during the crisis situation. Once the crisis is over, it forgets that it will revisit in the same season next year. In such a depressing scenario, one only exclaims, “God save the common man in India!”

By Ram Niwas Malik

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