By Sumit Kr:
Recently, a chilling incident took place in the Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, where the ICU and dialysis ward of a private hospital caught fire because of an unfortunate short-circuit leading to death of many people while many suffered severe injuries. Many people had to lose their near and dear ones because the hospital lacked a comprehensive safety system to combat such disasters. Though the incident took place at a private hospital, the bigger issue is that the government at the state and central have abdicated their responsibilities to provide quality and equitable healthcare through public hospitals leading to proliferation of attractive private hospitals administered and governed by crony-capitalists and cynical politicians.
The need of the hour is to rekindle the infrastructure, governance, maintenance, mechanism and functioning of public hospitals. Public hospitals, because of the sheer apathy of the governments at state and central level, have become so pathetic that one prefers disease over those. The soiled floors, unhygienic and filthy washrooms, paucity of staff, lack of beds, absence of canteens, intermittent supply of electricity and no digitisation are some of the very basic problems which are plaguing public healthcare. This compels people to opt for private hospitals which in turn charge exorbitantly, putting a hefty burden on the pockets of poor and middle class citizens. Any rational person would always be of the opinion that investment in health and education is imperative for economic development of a nation-state. Quality healthcare is the first thing in which we need to invest in order to harness the demographic dividend. It requires massive introspection and brainstorming by the government, health department and bureaucrats. Budget allocations should be increased and there should be a vehement co-ordination at different levels to ensure that each penny spent in the health sector leads to a better livelihood for the people. ICT could be of great importance in giving ‘inclusive healthcare’ and therefore, the government ought to connect the programmes like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan’ with public health institutions.
This requires a relentless determination on the part of the government to reinvigorate the public health system. It was the resolute determination of the government that flushed out menaces like polio and tetanus from India. At a time when the world is looking towards India as an example of economic growth, it is high time that we set a precedent in healthcare provision