Health Care In India: Time We Thought About It!

Posted on December 4, 2010 in Health & Life

By Srishti Chauhan:

India, with its diversity in terms of cultures, traditions, contours, foods and crafts, has a lot to boast about. However, hidden beneath these delightful pictures is the underbelly of a deprived India.

Rajat Kumar, 8yrs, was admitted in hospital for a relatively simple appendix operation. However, he developed high grade fever after surgery which was proved to be an infection of the whole system and of a particularly virulent drug resistant organism picked up from the hospital and the little boy succumbed to it very soon.

Similar dangers are present worldwide but the difference is that developed countries recognize the dangers of fatal infections and reinforce measures to prevent them. In our country, due to the struggle to get its citizens treated by qualified personnel, these dangers are put on the back burner, resulting in devastating consequences.

Contracting infections in hospitals is a malady rising at an alarming rate in the country. With thousands of feet treading long distances to avail the far and few medical facilities, hygiene and sanitation have taken a definite backseat. Patients who come to a hospital or a clinic for treatment often face and suffer from a callous disregard of fundamental sterilization measures.

A very sorry state of affairs is evident in the rampant spread of Hepatitis B infections in hospitals. It is easy to say that medical personnel use badly serialized instruments… actually the tragic story is that these viruses require very special sterilization procedures which, of course, would be impractical to implement regularly for all surgeries and invasive procedures. These actually just require basic preliminary investigations which tragically are not available to the common public, being expensive to the majority and free in very limited government hospitals.

The infections in hospitals are not caused by the use of some highly multifarious instruments whose use is beyond the comprehension of the common man. They are, actually, caused by regularly used items like reused surgical gloves, non-sterilized syringes and intravenous sets, contaminated gauze, germ-laden instruments and medical products without proper certification. Again the tragedy is the lack of funds set out for the use of disposable sterile equipment and gloves, which is an irony considering patients are actually being paid a sum of Rs. 600  up to 1500 for a delivery in states like Uttarakhand.

The list of people dying and suffering from hospital acquired infections in India is mounting at a distressing rate. Dinesh Gupta, 12, is one of the many on that list. He was admitted to a Delhi hospital with a kidney problem. Instead of cure, he got an infected catheter. Now he suffers from a chronic renal failure.

Unlike popular perception, visiting a private hospital and spending a fortune on the same medical treatment guarantees proper healing, leading private hospitals in Delhi have come in the limelight for the very opposite reasons. Unlike financial constraint, however, these hospitals do this because of irresponsible money making and due to lack of fear because of improper inspections and inadequate punishments. According to the Hospital Infection Society, Mumbai, 25 – 35 per cent of patients admitted to city hospitals become casualties of hospital infection.

The solution to this problem is neither straightforward nor can be effortlessly implemented. In fact, there will be countless opinions regarding the upgradation of medical services in India. A country like India, with a huge shortage of academically and professionally proficient doctors needs more educational institutions directed towards producing them without lowering the academic standards.

In areas where there are competent doctors, a regular assessment of the functioning of the hospital must be done to ensure proper norms are being followed. Strict punishment following any laxity by the doctors will deter loads of miscreants. Currently, in India, graduates have to offer their services in rural areas for one year compulsorily. This provides very highly myopic and short-term solutions. Despite all these measures, a long-term solution to the problem would be developing infrastructural base and providing doctors with lucrative offers for working in under-developed regions of the country in order to improve health-care facilities.

India has a long way to go where standard of living for the citizens is concerned. Besides focusing on trying to increase the productivity and efficiency of India as an economy, it’s time we think about enhancing the Human Development Index (HDI) of India-the country and starting with re-organizing and improving health sector seems like a fine idea.

Image courtesy: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get_involved/campaign/health_and_education/rogue_doctors.html

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