Lack Of Care In Hospitals

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Nov 2017 11:35:04

Population growth is the major factor responsible for increasing mortality rate in Uttar Pradesh. Number of
children die due to the load of patients in hospitals. According to the doctors, nearly 4,000 patients are admitted every day. Doctors can’t refuse to admit them. There is just one doctor for every 17 patients, though it should be one for every ten children.

MANY children, most of them infants, continue to die in Indian hospitals for the lack of adequate medical care, at times on the way to a doctor, for lack of oxygen shortage of staff and malnourishment?
Has climate change and increased pollution hit the people of the world, especially children, the hardest? Is that a major cause why children and people at large are losing their immunity and resistance to disease? Doctors identify breathing hazards as major threats to healthful living and life itself.

In Uttar Pradesh alone, 2,600 deaths have been reported from a major hospital in the first 10 months of this year. Last year, there were 2,751 deaths in that hospital. If that is correct, how many more infants and children die elsewhere in the country for inadequate health care?
The Governments in the States have been criticised for failure to provide doctors, beds or medical infrastructure. Administrators of hospitals have been suspended or sacked. But does that solve the problem? In August this year, 60 children died in a major Gorakhpur Government hospital; later there were more deaths, including several in Nashik in Maharashtra and most recently in Gujarat.

The first 60 deaths of children occurred in August this year because of lack of oxygen in the Gorakhpur hospital. Gorakhpur happens to be the constituency of the Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath, who won a landslide election victory to the State Assembly only a few months earlier.

The UP Health Minister has now claimed that there would be zero tolerance of any corrupt practices in the State’s hospitals, but does he go beyond that to get to the root of issues? Will that save the children, especially infants, from dying when brought to the hospitals with infections?

Several children, already critically ill, are put on a single hospital bed; there is no alternative. With the monsoon over, the authorities hope that the number of deaths of children will decline. In Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital, more than 2,700 children are reported to have died last year and 2,600 children are reported to have died from January to October this year, according to a report by Manoj Kumar Singh, published on the website of a news channel. August is a bad month because of heavy floods in parts of Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Bihar where infections and fevers take a heavy toll.

In August, as more than 60 children died at the hospital in northern Uttar Pradesh (UP), allegedly because oxygen was not available, there was widespread concern and protest. The children had died from infections and conditions such as Japanese encephalitis, it was claimed. Three hundred more children died in the same month, according to the official data provided by the Government hospital. It is the only major hospital in a radius of 200 km.

In the first 23 days of October this years, 354 children, including 231 new-born, have died and more than 1,000 since August. Most of children, brought to the hospital, are malnourished, says Dr P.K. Singh, the college principal. Floods in eastern UP and western Bihar had caused widespread infections, he added.

“Children are already infected; they die in the first hour of admission. The load of patients is too heavy: nearly 4,000 patients are coming every day. We can't refuse to admit them”, he said; the hospital staff take a number of children to a single bed. There is just one doctor for every 17 patients, though it should be one for every ten children.

“In our country, the neo-natal mortality rate per 1,000 births is 27 but in UP, it is 43. Most of the deaths at neo-natal stage are caused by breathing problems. The next cause is infection”, says Professor K.P. Kushwaha, a former principal of B.R.D. Medical College, and a child specialist. “By the time the infants arrive at the hospital they are in critical condition. It becomes difficult to save infants at that stage”, he added.

India spends 1.2 per cent of its gross domestic product on public health; is that too little to take sufficient care of its huge population of 1.3 billion?
The official response is that GDP alone cannot be the norm for health expenditure by the Government; it does not take into account the even larger spending by individuals, poor and not so poor, as well as the affluent. The private spending would be much larger than the budgetary provisions by the Centre and the States.

It is true that the backward and impoverished regions need much greater government health care infrastructure. But official agencies are prone and ordained to administer, maintain law and order and collect taxes; it has been so from time immemorial; their second prime emphasis is national defence; health care, social welfare, including children and women and the poorest of the poor, besides education come later; and these areas face the first cuts and diversion of funds from the national or State exchequer in a crisis, financial or otherwise.

National infrastructure is indeed of great importance, but even as it generates jobs and empowers people in direct and indirect ways, it must pay its way rather than be a burden on the treasury. When driven by zeal, several officials in the districts turn their focus to public welfare, but could it be widespread? Do-gooders as well as non-governmental organisations and corporate social responsibility cannot be expected nor are they able to reach out to hundreds of millions of people in grave need of help and assistance.

Ever since the 1975 National Emergency, the problem of rapidly rising population has almost never been discussed in any public forum or in a national debate or in the print, electronic or social media. Politically, it is a hot potato. Birth control as a subject is taboo in any interaction. On the contrary the focus is on India’s youth dividend as the developed and the First World have been facing a decline in population ever since World War II during which tens of millions were killed or massacred.

Migration of several million people from the second and third world in search of opportunity, jobs and higher education might have added to the numbers in the first world and compensated it for the lack of desire among the modern youth to have children and raise families in spite of incentives in many modern nations. Economic compulsions, limited wars and widespread terrorism have created a new policy framework in many countries to discourage immigration and even moves to curb fleeing refugees from nations torn by civil war conditions.