By Ajit Chak
When it rains on the planet Jupiter it rains diamonds. When it rains in Gorakhpur it rains death. Every year hundreds of children die due to Japanese encephalitis and this year is no different, but this year Gorakhpur happens to be the CM’s constituency. However mosquitoes are not frightened of politicians.
The medical establishment may be frightened of politicians on the other hand but it is obvious that the cancer of corruption and indolence that has held the state in thrall for the last many decades seems to have paralysed medical intervention in the state in many ways.
From business interests, to vote bank politics and half a dozen other measures all taken half heartedly or with the aim to make a commission the fate of the patient hangs in balance in a state where chaos and anarchy are now taken as forms of governance by even a public that is unaware that anything better can exist.
For example if a city exists then waterlogging and garbage heaps should be a part of it and are taken for granted in Uttar Pradesh. No one bothers to think that maybe someone in the Nagar Nigam needs to be sacked. If there is garbage there will be flies and waterlogging leads to mosquito breeding.
Gorakhpur will have mosquitoes because it has several natural water bodies and there is large scale paddy cultivation and pig farming in the state. If pigs are bred next to paddy fields or water bodies, then mosquitoes, which have a range of half a kilometre, will get a chance to spread encephalitis as they need to bite a host pig first before biting a human. Now the pig farmers are a vote bank so the previous governments did not relocate them. So maybe the government needs to breed frogs to eat the mosquitoes that bite the pigs or it needs to release GM mosquitoes to kill the vectors of JE or hospitals need to buck up at this time of the year so that the media does not get a chance to blow incidents out of proportion? But frogs will not give bureaucrats a commission. And frogs’ legs are not a delicacy in India.
Children die every year in Gorakhpur at this time of the year, so why was a huge bill of an oxygen supplier lying not cleared by the BRD just as this time of the year? Why is it that patients’ flock to government hospitals first and only then out of despair to private nursing homes? Why is it that the heads of most departments in government colleges set up their own diagnostic centres in the state and today their children are the billionaires of the state?
A trip to Sector 19 in Chandigarh to see a government run dispensary will dispel many myths about medical treatment in the government sector. Compared to the best medical facility in Uttar Pradesh this dispensary will be found to be giving VIP medical treatment to commoners.
The grapevine has it that following the incident in Gorakhpur the most premier institutes in Lucknow immediately called their suppliers and immediately cleared their pending bills, these bills at times are in the range of several crore rupees, sources state. The arrears are allowed to mount so that the suppliers who are private commercial organisations pay a commission to get them cleared. This is allegedly the standard practice in Uttar Pradesh, be it the hospital or the Power Corporation.
There are two kinds of hospitals in the nation. There is the private sector and the public sector. The private sector flourishes whenever the public sector fails to redress the grievances of the local community.
The huge queues for treatment in government hospitals are a sign of two things. Firstly these are an opportunity for government doctors to divert patients into the private sector. This opportunity arises when machines malfunction and cannot be repaired at the same speed at which a private nursing home would repair them. Secondly they are a sign that preventive health care which should be taken care of under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is missing from the cities that breed filth and garbage and vectors and disease.
Lastly some of the previous HODs of most premier institutions of the state have set up their own diagnostic centres and pathologies, some after retirement and others before they did. One of them even began in the bathroom of a government accommodation provided by a medical college to its pathology head. Today it has franchises all over the state capital. Most of these have been set up in residential buildings. So is the LDA blind to these illegal commercial medical buildings? All said and done it is a mindset issue which the government needs to deal with. Only zero tolerance for laxity in the development authority, in the municipal corporation and in medical institutions will produce results.
The other option would be to impose a cess for medical treatment of the poor on private nursing homes so that a huge part of their profits goes to providing free medical services for the poor, and free services ranging from tests to oxygen to medicine.