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Who is responsible for Gorakhpur tragedy?

Death of 70 children in Gorakhpur at the state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College hospital because of infections and an alleged disruption of oxygen supply in the paediatrics ward reveal the fact that the incident took place due to the laxity on the part of state government. Don’t we think human life has no value in our country unless it’s of VIP and their families? UP and Bihar had witnessed many such incidents in past where people died particularly kids in high numbers.

The negligence has raised a question over the prevailing infrastructure in the State-run hospitals in UP. It is sad that healthcare needs of poor are ignored in India due to meager allocation of money, Legal system in general and health care for poor needs reform. This is appalling incompetence and probably criminal negligence on the part of the health authorities. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had visited the hospital to inaugurate a new critical-care unit where many of the young patients were suffering from encephalitis, a potentially deadly illness that causes acute swelling of the brain. The disease is often spread by mosquitoes, and infections rise during the monsoon season. Insufficient manpower, lack of fund allocation and non-adherence to water quality have led to serious health problems in UP. Several of its health facilities in government hospitals are dysfunctional. The government announces health benefits and promises to strengthen the healthcare system. And every year hundreds of children and adults end up facing a life full of uncertainty. Rural India faces shortage of more than 12,300 specialist doctors. There are vacancies for 3,880 doctors in the rural healthcare system along with the need for an astounding 9,814 health centers.

India’s health system is really neglected. None of the government has paid adequate attention on it. The quality of our state medical college is very low. After going through the prevailing conditions of Government hospitals one would find that odour is almost synonymous with all government hospitals. Subsequently unhygienic conditions prevails which has become breeding ground for mosquitoes, which in turn can cause diseases like malaria, dengue etc. It has been years that people are forced to bear with the stench that emanates from the place. Waste materials strewn all around, crowded wards and waiting rooms are a grim reminder of the unhygienic condition of our health institutions.

The toilets are in deplorable condition and source of infection. Scores of patients use them daily and these are not even cleaned twice a day. More so, doctors treating patients also run at a higher risk of contracting infection. A lot of support is required from various departments, including engineering controls, right infrastructure, provisions for maintaining hygiene and above all sensitization of doctors and health workers regarding good health practices. It appears the Govt. hospitals needs to take a cue from its counterparts in the private sector as far as matters of cleanliness and hygiene are concerned. There are so many hospitals and nursing homes in residential areas across India that lacks the basic facility of broad entry roads, parking facilities and fire exits.

The Gorakhpur incident shows the negligence on the part of the hospital management. Crores are generated through various taxes but we fail to make payments to small ancillary sectors. Stringent punishment for the hospital and the oxygen supplier is the only remedy to prevent future tragedies of such kind.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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