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 The ideology of care which is a moral and legal obligation has been replaced by contractual engagements.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

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).