I could not miss writing post on this day even with self-inflicted busi-ness. Blog Action Day has a good cause (never mind if you think it is community building promotion gimmick). I was reminded about it gently way beforehand. I care, and I had written a blog action day poslast year as well.
This year the subject is poverty. Google helpfully offered me keywords: Poverty in India and Poverty in Africa.
Well, poverty is not confined to only India and Africa. There are poor people in US and there are poor people who work hard to make both ends meet in Europe. Though you may argue that living standards of poor in America are better than those in India. Yes, in India and Africa, it has been so worse that parents have been forced to sell their own kids. Farmers, in so-called agriculture-based country like India, routinely commit suicide. Thousands die in a day. Routinely.
I am no economist, I will not dwell into why poverty happens. But I can firmly say, in India, its population that takes toll. There is crunch of basic resources like food, water, space that is compounded by mismanagement and corruption in the government.
Out of all the things, why I choose this aspect of population impacting poverty? It is based on my recent experience of two visits to government hospitals in Delhi. I went there because I required a medical fitness certificate and it was mandatory to get it from a government hospital.
I first visited Bhimrao Ambedkar hospital where after 3 hours of wait I got to see the doctor who had been overstaying her shift by one hour. She must have attended to over 200 patients in those three hours. You can imagine how much time each patient would have got. As I was entering the room, she anxiously asked the peon, who replied with grimace that about 60 more were waiting. There was still a long queue outside.
I hate to tell you there were several squabbles over queue as well. Nevertheless, I entered the room and found the doctor brusquely interrogating a patient. Compassion that is part of doctor’s healing touch was absent, there was no courtesey either. Patients too meekly accepted this. They were scared of being shooed away by the doctor without medicines or diagnosis. They would have accepted more rudeness from doctor, if need be. When I spoke to the doctor, she was perfectly civil but I could not forget that harsh, bursqe tone she has used earlier on the other patient. I did not get the fitness certificate as doctor said she was not authorised (!!). (And this was a doctor at government hospital) I went to AIIMS next week.
At AIIMS again, everywhere there were battered, bruised and visibly sick people. People were lying on every available space in the corridor. They were writhing in pain, those accompanying them were aggressively queuing up for doctors. Queues extended outside one whole room. It was not even 9 in the morning yet.
When my turn came to wait in doctor’s cabin, I again had a chance to see the doctor treating his previous patient. This patient was a lady accompanied by her husband. She could barely sit on patient’s stool. Her eyes were already dripping. Doctor clearly stated that she needed to be admitted in the hospital but there was no bed available. People have been waiting here for months for a bed. By ‘here’, we mean AIIMS: India’s premier medical institute. Doctor asked the husband of the patient where he came from. He replied, Rewari. A place that is supposedly 400kms away from Delhi. Doctor asked them to go back there, saying he had referred to a Rewari’s government hospital. Go back! In that condition! Chances are Rewari’s hospital was already helpless and that’s why they came here. I watched wordlessly, feeling as if my heart was turning into stone.
A brief chat with doctor told me it was a regular thing: seriously sick patients were returned back to their far-off cities/villages with first-aid. There is no space, he said, there are patients worse off. Worse than what I just saw. Not surprising that, just 2 weeks back, AIIMS was slapped a fine of 2 lakhs by State Consumer Commission for forcing a heart patient to seek treatment elsewhere due to on-availability of beds.
Who do you blame for non-availability of quality health services? The bursque doctors who regularly stretch their shifts, yet can not provide the required medication/attention or the patients who are poor and sick enough to die with it. I don’t know who to blame and how to help. You decide and tell me.