The condition of the ill in Newada District Hospital, Bihar explains the negligence of public healthcare in the nation and the reality that health infrastructure for the poor has rarely been a state priority.
The New Leam Staff
In an incidence of medical negligence it has been reported that stray dogs in Bihar are occupying beds at Nawada District Hospital while the patients struggle amid ailments. The state of medical negligence and the crisis in the public healthcare is prevalent all around the nation but what was reported from the Nawada District Hospital clearly tells us of the story of the lack of public will, the absence of government accountability and the inability of the nation-state to ensure that public hospitals stop decaying. Images and videos of the hospital where dogs conveniently sat and slept on the beds while the patients had to sleep on the floor captured the national imagination.
This is not a new incident that can be seen as a rarity but examples of such administrative negligence have been reported earlier too from the state of Bihar. Recently, it was reported that in the operation theatre of a government hospital in Buxar, a stray dog entered and ran away with the patient’s amputated leg. The patient whose leg the dog took away, was apparently chasing a running train and injured himself while doing so.
Bihar is the third most populous state in India with majority population relying on state government health services. With only 36 district hospitals in the state, the health infrastructure is very weak. Lack of health facilities and technical equipment has been a common rhetoric of the State.
An incident of such nature is another example of lack of attention paid by the government on the health sector in the state. It was reported that numerous appeals have been made by the patients to empty the hospital space from dogs but it seems all of it has fallen on deaf ears as no efforts has been made till now. The civil surgeon of the hospital issued a statement saying that the people responsible behind this act will be punished soon. Lack of medical and technical facilities is still an understandable situation but the dog menace does not even fit for an incident to be explained.
According to an analysis presented by Brookings India Bihar’s dependence on private health care is highest amongst any other state in India. The analysis of the National Sample Survey Office data by Brookings India further revealed that Bihar government spends Rs. 348 per person on health which is even half of India’s average of Rs. 724 per person. This places Bihar at the top position for very less government expenditure on health sector.
Moreover a lack of functional state led health care system is the worst problem for the local poor population in Bihar. Public Health Clinics do have a brick and mortar structure in several districts of Bihar but corruption and lack of facilities plagues the optimum functionality of these clinics. As a result of which people have to rely on private clinics or private hospitals for better facilities. The struggle does not ends here as the access to these private hospitals in itself in a major problem and on top of it private hospital and clinics are mostly run by quacks who are incapable of providing quality services to the masses.
In yet another case of horrific medical negligence it was reported that a 9-day-old baby died after he was bitten by rats in the Intensive Care Unit of Darbhanga Medical College in Bihar. Although the hospital authorities deny the charge but the family of the baby confirmed the news. As the family gave a statement to the media stating that they saw their baby being bitten in the limbs by the rats while nobody from the hospital staff was present for observation at the unit.
Medical Negligence is an important issue affecting the health care system of Bihar making it difficult for the common people to get quality services for basic illness. In such a scenario what should be the modus operandi, one should ask? This kind of negligence mainly due to corruption in the system affects the poor people of Bihar by undervaluing their lives.
Right to Health is not a fundamental right in India nor has it been written down in our constitution. There are provisions related to health in the Directive Principles of State Policy and also the Supreme Court of India in their interpretation of Article 21 has mentioned that under the purview of Right to life and liberty, right to health is also included.
Post-Liberalisation India has witnessed the commodification of health where health is no longer treated as a necessity or basic need rather it has become a subject of market value. It has become a commodity for those who can afford to buy it and rest who cannot afford the expensive private health care service will have to suffer. It is the poor therefore who suffer as they are dependent on the state for affordable medical care.