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In high profile Parliamentary constituency, Vadodara, workers' safety, health take a back seat

By Our Representative
Even as the campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections is going on in full swing, Workers Health and Safety Net (WHSN), Vadodara, has sought answers from the two main warring parties as to why some of the basic issues related to workers’ safety in this industrial city remain unresolved, despite several representations. Led by four senior activists, Bharat Pathak, Rohit Prajapati, Jagdish Patel and Kantibhai Mistry, and accompanied by workers, a group of representatives from the WHSN visited the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Hospital in Vadodara to find out whether their earlier representation to improve situation with regard to workers’ safety and health had made any impact.
A WHSN statement said, they had visited the hospital on October 7, 2013 and had even made written representation to the ESIS director nearly a fortnight later, on October 20, 2013. “It is now six months that we made the representation”, the statement said, adding, “During our visit on April 18, 2014, again, the situation has not changed, and we were not surprised.” The visit is considered significant, as it comes in a city which has suddenly shot into prominence – it is from here that the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is fighting polls.
In a pointed question, the statement wondered, “Do the candidates representing BJP, Congress and others intending to represent people of Vadodara in Parliament know what the situation is of this important social security scheme affecting thousands of workers and other problems faced by workers? Do they know in which corner of the city ESI Hospital is situated? Will they know even after getting elected? Will they ever visit this hospital? Do they have any dreams or schemes to improve the working of ESI? When workers and industries keep the wallet of ESI full of money why is this situation?”
The statement state, during the latest visit, the activists and workers found that “the cleanliness standards in the hospital are very poor, bed sheets are not only not changed daily but not even once in a week, pillows are so filthy and old that even if you donate them no one will accept, cots are old and its legs bent inside, toilets and bathrooms are not maintained well, and there are buckets in there, not even electric lamps.”
Further, the statement said, there are “no Anglo-Indian tubs for the patients who cannot squat, there is no warm water facility for patients to take bath in winter and so on, there is no sink to wash hands or brush teeth, there is no water in some washrooms, and some sink have been broken but broken pieces have not been removed.” For drinking water “there are several water coolers but only one is working, there is inadequacy of staff for cleaning, the floor is moped once only in a day, sonography machine is out of order for quite some time, and patients are sent to the SSG Hospital, where there are long queues, and at times ESI patients bribe the staff to jump queue.”
The statement further said, “Some fans in ward and waiting room are no t in working condition. Patients are provided food but the patient has to bring utensils like plate, glass etc. from home. Earlier pure ghee was used but there now only hydrogenated oil is used in kitchen. Outpatient department (OPD) timings are from 8 am but doctors start their work at 10 am and patients are to keep waiting. Doctors take round of ward once only in a day.”
Pointing out that the “hospital building is very old and need repairs in big way”, the statement said, “There is no psychiatrist appointed hence patients with mental health problem are sent to the SSG Hospital. In Vadodara there were two dispensaries, at Gorwa and Makarpura, which were kept open for 12 hours, since these are industrial areas. Both have been now converted to routine six hour split timing dispensaries, and times are 8.30 to 12 noon and 4.30-7.00pm. In the period 2003-08 nine dispensaries in different parts of city were closed down and merged with other dispensaries. The ESI Chest hospital has also been closed.”
Says social activist Jagdish Patel, "Last October I received call from a friend saying his son is hospitalized in ESI (Indian Social Security) Hospital and the situation is horrible for the patients.I was visiting Khambhat but visited the hospital on my way back in late evening and was shocked to see the conditions. Later I wrote a letter to the Director, ESIS giving details. Yesterday we again visited to see if our letter have had any impact. There was none."
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Click HERE to see a video on the ESI Hospital

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