Tuesday 25 November 2014

Healthcare in India

Healthcare in India
A leading English weekly has on the front page of its 30th November issue the words ' India's Best Hospitals '.

Among these best hospitals is one where I took my wife when she was very ill with septicemia. I must say that the hospital saved her life.  

I was a sitting Supreme Court Judge then. My wife was sinking when I made an urgent call to the hospital. They sent an ambulance with a doctor, and her treatment started immediately on arrival of the ambulance. At the hospital, which is a state of art hospital, she was rushed into the I.C.U. where a team of 12 doctors, headed by one of the most renowned doctors in Delhi, immediately started treatment. After about 3 days in the I.C.U. she improved, though she had to stay in a private ward for another week or so.

 I am relating this story to say that had I been an ordinary person in India this treatment would not have been possible. The treatment was extremely expensive, and cost several lac rupees, which could hardly have been afforded by an average Indian. Being a Supreme Court Judge all expenses for the treatment, including medicines and room rent in the private ward, were paid by the government. But could an ordinary Indian have afforded it ?

 The top hospitals in India are no doubt very good,but how much percent of the Indian people can afford to go there ? My guess is less than 5%.

 In many cities, and particularly in rural areas, people with ailments often go to quacks ( unqualified doctors ), because they cannot afford to go to qualified doctors. The number of quacks may possibly be 5 to 10 times the number of qualified doctors. The government hospitals are mostly no good, while the private clinics are exorbitantly expensive. So many people simply die because they cannot afford proper medical care.

 On page 78 of the same issue it is mentioned that India has one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Many of them die from preventable causes like low birth weight, birth trauma, preterm births, pregnancy complications, tuberculosis and congenital cardiac disease. Infants die because of poor sanitation,  dehydration, diarrhoea, etc Malnutrition is a major cause of infant mortality. Half the women in India are anaemic.

Page 100 of the issue mentions the tragic case of a vegetable vendor, Rambhor, who was hit by a speeding vehicle in Azadpur Mandi in Delhi. If he had been in any developed country, paramedics would have started life-saving procedures in the ambulance itself ( as was done for my wife ), and he would have reached a well equipped hospital in no time. In Delhi, however, he was transferred from one hospital to another for five hours.

The first hospital claimed that it did not have an I.C.U. bed. The second said its ultra sound facility did not work. The third said that the medico-legal documents were not in place.
 Rambhor died in the premises of the last hospital without receiving any medical help.
Dr. Rajesh Garg, of the VCSG Government Medical Sciences and Research Institute, Uttarakhand, mentions this case in a report on the state of emergency medical services. He writes : " The death of Rambhor was not a routine death; it symbolizes the breakdown of emergency medical services in India ".
         Jinhe naaz hai Hind par woh kahaan hain ?


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