Thursday, September 01, 2016

Health system - a failure or what?

It has been now 70 years after we got freedom from colonial rulers.  Few horrifying news are reaching us through television.
Most recent is news from Kanpur, where a man ran here and there to get treatment for his son. He was carrying his son on shoulders. As per the news he first reached the emergency in a hospital they told him to go to Hallet hospital. On reaching emergency ward he was directed to go to the children ward. Thus he again ran carrying his son on his shoulder towards the children ward. That ward must be at some distance from emergency ward.
Hallet is a big hospital. Its span is large. From Gol chauraha to the Adarsh Nagar police station or upto that Jheel area? On the other side is the GT road Grand trunk road. On that road also many of the health institutions are situated.
From 1970 to 2000 I stayed at Kanpur. There was not a single govt hospital on the road from Bithoor to Kalyanpur. If there was any Government hospital it was not known to me. Later I came to know that one government Ayurveda centre is running in village Ramnagar. I did visit that medical facility. But as usual with all government facilities, resources are not available as they ought to be present.
There was one TB patient who came on that day. He had TB for many years. He was not able to take treatment properly. Sometimes he must have left the treatment and sometimes he could not get any medical facility near to his residence. That’s why after suffering again he had come to the Hospital at Ramnagar. I cannot say that medical centre as Hospital. I am saying as in the normal perception of a common man what image of a hospital comes? This building does not fit in that image. Though it is available near the Grand Trunk road, but it is not visible. Only those who are frequenting this centre or the villagers of Ramnagar know about it.
I was frequently going to Ramnagar for many years. My relatives lived in this village. But I also did not know about it? We had our own Health Centre inside the IIT Kanpur campus. Thus all the campus residents were lucky that whenever they had any medical condition they could go to the Hospital. But for specialised treatment everyone was referred to the Hallet, which was the referral Hospital I think? GSVM Medical College was there.  I don’t know whether any hospital was there in Chaubepur, Shiuli (shivli) or Bhewan? Neither I saw any hospital on the route from Kalyanpur, Maitha, todarpur, Bairi, Shobhan, to shivli. Once I travelled on bicycle on the banks of the “Badi Nahar” as we knew it, the canal. May be it was Ramganga canal?
Since childhood I often thought why there is no hospital near Shobhan? Lots of construction activity happened in that area, but why can’t they establish a big hospital. The amount they spent on constructing temples and related infrastructure that could have been utilized to establish a health centre at Shobhan or Bairi?  But I did not have that kind of courage(or guts) to say it openly in Shobhan area?
On various occasions I visited our ancestral village, but I did not see any hospital?
Same thing I saw in Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh. There was a hospital in the city. But when I used to visit maternal village of my maternal grandmother, we had to walk through the fields to reach it, after disembarking from the Bus, which we took from Hardoi city. This village was few kilometres away from the main road that leads to Sandi. I never heard or saw any hospital on that 50-60 or more km road, which lead to the Sandi. May be it was near Bilagram. We were lucky that my grandmother lived in the city area; hence we could go to the Hospital.
But I do imagine how poor people can access the medical facility in our rural India? The condition of our hospitals is very pathetic. There is no one who can help poor people when they reach any Govt. hospital.
First shock I get on reaching any hospital is sight of a Big crowd standing in long queue, and no place is left to a new comer- the poor chap? Where he will stand? Who will guide them as to where to go and register your name? In that highly crowded area poor people almost become invisible? But then they are visible to the GOONs, the middle men, touts, whatever you call them, they catch hold of these poor people and their sole aim is to exploit as much they can? Poor people with no one to guide often fall prey to these men. Even I go into the hands of these eagle eyes in those hospitals. Even in Cancer Hospital or Heart hospital. We go to such specialised hospitals only in rare conditions? There too if we do not find facility in our sight we are hounded by these middle men. They take money and arrange everything within the hospital. Most surprising thing is that all the hospital staff knows and recognise these middle men. These middle men are seen 24X7 in the hospital corridors. We go with patients in emergency conditions only? And system of hospital will not help us we very well know that. Doctor comes as a God, if at all he comes to attend our patient. He prescribes few medicines and tests. We with our patient do not know where to go for tests and medicine? We are not regular client of such hospital. Most of the times test laboratory in govt hospital do not function or we are compelled to go out to private pathology or clinics for tests. There are so many in the area on the opposite side of Hallet Hospital. They take lot of money for blood test, stool, urine test etc. But there are also X-Ray, CT-Scan, UltraSound also. Patients often have to run to these shops. Though few labs are there in Hospital, but I doubt they function to their full potential.
Once I went to GB Pant Hospital, doctor prescribed for an UltraSound. Immediately I went to the lab. The crowd there was swelling at high pace. The sight of crowd itself was a deterrent for me to proceed further. Two doors were there, both were closed. Occasionally a staff coming out and announced a name, that person goes inside. Utilizing that moment I showed the slip then that staff took it inside and returned with a blunt reply that come after one month. I was shocked. The patient (my wife) was suffering with uterine pain and can anyone imagine, what I was thinking at that moment. What a poor patient will do if he had come 50 Km far from Kanpur? Can he wait for 30 days with a patient suffering from Pain?
My wife is suffering from Ortho condition, spondylitis. Year over year we are going to GB Pant Hospital, but nothing has improved. In morning at around 7.30 AM I have to reach hospital to get a seat in the queue. At around 8.30 AM or after it a person comes and starts distributing tokens. Then only I get a number. After 9 AM doctors usually arrive. Then we wait for our turn. If lucky then we can go inside, but daily I find few staff go inside and take patients along with them without any token? As if they are VIP, being staff of Hospital or Directorate of Health Services. If such people enter then our turn comes after 11 or 12. Means if my token number is 20 then actually I will be the 50 or 40th Patients. Because, in between there would be many staff going inside. Added to it are the In-patients. Thus going to Hospital and getting a token is very difficult job.
On reaching Hospital first you have to stand in a queue for registration of your name, if I am lucky or reach early then I get registration early. From there we have to go and stand in front of doctor’s room. Always there is large queue.
Doctor said do the fasting Blood sugar and few others. I had gone to hospital many times at 8 AM. The scene was scary and I returned home. I did not have courage to stand there for two hours. Then one day I reached hospital at 7.20 AM, to my surprise I was there on 40 number in serial. That too I had to go on empty stomach and without water. Then at-least around 9.30 or so my blood was taken and I was told to come after one and half hours after having taken food.
Getting near to a super specialist is also a big task. Thus going to a hospital is always a very saddening depressing thing for me.
When my son was detected with respiratory problem (allergic bronchitis) or in simple words Asthma, I had to take him to Hospital twice daily for nebulizer. I had to travel for almost 8 Km up and down, Morning and evening. Queues anywhere in the private hospitals or Govt hospital never becomes small it is becoming larger and larger.

In the video shown on TV we see that when that father was carrying the body of son on his shoulder there were many cars and ambulances standing on road. That man was not given any Ambulance. He rushed to the children ward from there he took his son to a private hospital also. Later it was shown that doctors said you are late by 20 minutes, his life could have been saved if you had come 20 minutes earlier? 

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