Healthcare And India – An Ironic Love Story

Posted by Aravind Suresh in Health and Life
December 16, 2017

Like any seven year old girl, Adya would have been happily dreaming about her toys and her friends, had it not been for the demon called dengue. She was admitted in a private hospital in Delhi and she hoped to be better soon so that she could go and play with her friends. But this is not a simple movie, where everything ends well. Little Adya developed complications and tragically, she passed away on September 14.

But the real tragedy comes now. The bereaved parents are charged an exorbitant amount for the treatment, and what’s more; they were allowed to take the body only after the payment. The hospital defended the bill, by citing many procedural issues, and shockingly, also tried to buy out the father, and tried to prevent him from pursuing the matter, by offering huge monetary deals.

Next case is where, in a private hospital nonetheless, declared a baby boy dead when he was actually alive. Unfortunately, it was found out too late, and the baby died. The Delhi government, decided to cancel the hospital‘s license.

India is a land of contradictions. We manage to accept these contradictions, and we manage to take it in our stride. But there are many issues where, we find that these contradictions are those which endanger our right to affordable healthcare issues.

It is truly an irony when patients from all over the subcontinent come to  Indian hospitals for quality treatment. Chennai is known as the medical capital of India, and there a lot of private hospitals which give state of the art treatment, but at highly unaffordable rates.

Why is this so?

Indian policy makers have long been accused, rightly so, of neglecting the healthcare industry, and after liberalization in 1991, the scene has mostly been dominated by private agencies. The abysmal conditions in government hospitals have forced people to move towards private centres. And when private centres lose their efficiency, it is a matter of grave concern, as this effectively means that Indian healthcare is screwed in the favour of rich, and affordable healthcare is a dream for many.

Are the doctors then to blame?

We tend to idealize doctors, and we expect them to give quality treatment. Remember Mersal, the Tamil movie which ran on the idea of a ‘five rupees doctor’ ? People have bought into this idea and we can’t entirely blame them too. Rising costs and unaffordable treatment, often force people to look into impractical ideas as an escape route.

When we undergo treatment, we often forget that the institutions where we undergo treatment, are run by humans and therefore, human errors, along with human desires are bound to come up. However, accepting and rectifying an error is humane, but the brazen defence of the accused, by the Indian Medical Association nonetheless, is an act of sheer impunity. We forget that doctors too have lives, and they too seek to make profit, like any other person.

But, is it right to make huge profits, when millions of lives are at stake? Is it right to play with so many lives, when people expect you to treat them properly? Has capitalism corrupted society so much that ultimately we have become heartless individuals who only care about money?

Many people worry about the increasing cases of crime against Muslims, where rabble rousers from both sides cause panic to the mass by having an Us versus Them debate.We now tend to look at the less fortunate ones as those who can’t pay, and the rich as those who can.When the divide of ‘Us versus Them’ is already institutionalized for basic human needs, like healthcare,what can we do for the things which openly cause a divide?

Who is to blame? The politicians, the doctors, or us? You decide.