Skip to main content

Crisis in India's health system: Our children are fated to die because priorities of our Republic have gone awry

By Jitamanyu Sahoo and Syed Mujataba Hussain*
Of the various reasons to emerge from the Gorakhpur catastrophe, perhaps the most horrifying has been the disruption of ‘oxygen supply’ on August 10, the team of Indian Medical Association has confirmed. The horrible deaths of more than 60 children waiting and waiting for oxygen to be piped in mirrors the agony of our Health Care system.

Our health care system has miserably failed our children again. The Gorakhpur incident have followed the same pattern of ordering enquiry, submission of inquiry reports, fixing individual responsibility and payment of compensation to the victims family. This pattern has become a norm in our dysfunctional health care system were the breath of our children is silenced by the structural flaws of our institutions.
The despair and disparity in our medical institutions, marginalises the poor and renders them invisible. The poor’s economic buying power allows them access only to the public health care system where ‘services for poor are earmarked as poor services’. The indifference and coldness to provide standard healthcare service is gripping our public health care institutions. The ideology of care which is a moral and legal obligation has been replaced by contractual engagements.
The Gorakhpur tragedy has brought us back to the question on the role of the State in providing basic curative and preventive care to the public. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta laments that our children are “fated to die because in this republic our priorities have gone awry. The crisis in India’s health system is not the biggest secret in the world”. Pummelling the crisis will certainly assuage our anger of what happened in Gorakhpur. But we need to collectively channel our anger in rooting out the evils that beholds our health care system.
The political chiding over the deaths of innocent children has taken its course as usual. However, charting the intersection of the need for robust healthcare especially among poor and the existence of unequipped and unprepared medical infrastructure meeting this needs have been a peripheral issue. The presence of such unpreparedness as witnessed in the horrors of Gorapkhpur threatens both the State and medical institutions administered by the State.
Even after 70 years of freedom we need to ask where do we stand today. The possibility of viewing and assessing reality through different vantage points is alarming. However, the concept of care needs to be re-articulated to re-think healthcare. The incorporation of care ethics into our systemic functioning of public healthcare institutions would be a step towards redemption.
--
Working as junior legal and research consultants with the National Human Rights Commission. Views are personal

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Opposition refuses to legally challenge EVMs amidst plans of "back to ballot" protest

Counterview Desk
Even as opposition to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) allegedly to rig polls is growing, a group of prominent citizens who have come together to form the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan has controversially called for a national protest against EVMs on May 30, demanding future elections should be held only on ballot paper.

When a Pak scribe said Modi has 'proved' Jinnah’s two nation theory right...

By Zafar Agha*
It was around nine in the morning on May 24, 2019, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed the Lok Sabha with 300-plus MPs. It was a call from a journalist friend, Muzamal Suhrawardy, from Lahore, Pakistan. I ignored the call. We liberals had a depressing day the previous evening as the opposition to Modi and BJP collapsed. The results belied reports from the ground and even assessments made by colleagues.

It's now official: Akshay Kumar has not been conferred honorary Canadian citizenship

By Our Representative
It is now official. Super-star Akshay Kumar has not been conferred any honorary citizenship by Canadian authorities, as claimed by him ahead of the 2019 elections. In reply to a query by Roshan Shah, who is a Canadian citizen living in Waterloo, Ontario, and belongs to Ahmedabad, the country’s authorities dealing with issues related with immigration, refugees and citizenship in Canada have said that only six persons have so far been granted honorary citizenship.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

If EC's credibility is under question, shouldn't one "assume" EVMs might be tampered?

Counterview Desk
Gauhar Raza, scientist, documentary film maker and poet; senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi of the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD); military veteran Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury (retd); and Sucheta De and Sandeep Saurav of the All India Students' Association (AISA), have asked “individuals, organisations and people's movements” to send their endorsement to an appeal they have prepared on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

Govt of India overestimated GDP by 2.5%, must restore reputational damage: Ex-CEA

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Arvind Subramanian has said that changes brought about by the Government of India in data sources and methodology for estimating the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 “has led to a significant overestimation of growth”. While official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent, the actual growth may have been 4½ percent, ranging from 3 ½ to 5 ½ percent during the period, he adds.

Common thread of Modi, political Hinduism, nationalism? 'Contest' of ideas isn't over

By Salman Khurshid*
Losing the 2019 election and that too in a somewhat extreme manner has confronted us with unexpected challenges: Our leadership has naturally taken it very hard and to heart but with suggested options that we cannot imagine or contemplate. Hopefully the emotions will settle soon and give us the direction to pick up the pieces and march again.

Will minorities in India be 2nd class citizens? Wake up call: Be a 'communicating' Church

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
India today is at a defining moment of her history. There is so much that has taken place in the past five years (and particularly in the last ten days)- that several citizens of the country are genuinely concerned about the future of the country! Will democracy survive? Will key elements of the Constitution be changed?