G.B Pant fallout
What went wrong and what needs to be done?
DR. YOUSUF KANJWAL
It is very common scenario in Kashmir that authorities always wake up only once a problem arises. There is an old Kashmiri saying, “To dig the well at the time of fire”. Nearly 600 deaths in one year mean an average of close to 1-2 deaths per day. In any civilized world the hospital administration, the health minister and even chief minister would have resigned and may even been chargesheeted for this negligence.
This has come to surface for the first time. Neonates and infants have been dying both in GB Pant and LD Hospital for years. Government should try to go back and get the statistics of hospitalized infant mortality for the last 10 years. Have they ever found out what is the real cause behind these deaths? Once again the blame is thrown on helpless doctors, and they are being made scapegoats as usual. I am not trying to save doctors and in fact erring physicians should be held responsible. The whole affair is a mess.
Government has never taken interest in the healthcare of the state barring sanctioning of crores of rupees for SKIMS with the hope of making it tertiary care. While trying to achieve that goal they have utterly ignored the rest of the health care, be it SMHS, CD hospital, Maternity and children’s hospital. This is the fate of hospital in capital city. Can one imagine the pathetic condition of district and sub district hospitals? That is a total nightmare.
It is a shame that NGOs from USA have supplied even warmers for both LD as well as GB Pant neonatal unit. Many years ago one of my friends used to beg his NRK friends for donations to purchase warmers and even supplies for the neonatal unit. He should not have had to do that if administration would have come to rescue. How will the infants with asphyxia survive with not a single ventilator available? It is crime to give oxygen to 3-4 infants on a single bed and that too unregulated and at the same time we expect these neonates to survive. How can our ministers and CM sleep during night when few blocks away right in his neighborhood many innocent lives are lost day in and day out for want of proper medical care. What kind of a face these people will put in front of Allah on the Day of Judgment. If one of their kids would get sick, he would be flown to Delhi with state money. It is once again easy to blame doctors. They may not be able to perform their duties with bare hands.
Neonatology is a highly specialized branch of pediatrics and people should know that a general pediatrician does not have this expertise of a neonatologist. SKIMS used to have a special neonatal unit but it cannot cope up with the load. It is ironic that how come there is a specialized neonatal center for a small obstetric unit at SKIMS and it is practically nonexistent and ill staffed in the only mega tertiary care LD hospital.
Here are some suggestions to improve at least maternal and fetal healthcare of State:
LD hospital and children hospital have become obsolete. The location of both hospitals is horrible for common people to get even properly seen by a doctor. How can these two hospitals be separated? I have seen pregnant woman sweating in the sweltering heat for want of a fan and some water. They do not have proper seating for these poor women.
We need to make a joint campus for maternal and child health somewhere in the outskirts and may be closer to a central bus stand. It should be multi storey facility so that both academics as well as patient care would be under same umbrella.
Doctors with special training in neonatology should be hired and we have some of our own famous neonatologists all over the world who could help in training these physicians.
We need to relocate the neonatal unit of SKIMS to where it is needed the most i.e. children’s hospital and get the expertise from that place.
Blanket ban of private practice should be enforced. There should be presence of a neonatologist 24/7 in the hospital as is the case in most of the countries in the world.
It should not take another 1000 infants to die before government wakes up again. This possibly is the best time to invest in this endeavor.
It is the responsibility of our non mainstream leaders as well. Why can’t they come out and ask people to donate generously and even give zakat to such a noble cause, like late Sheikh Abdullah did for Hazratbal and SKIMS. Unfortunately we Kashmiris by tradition are not generous people. According to one census only 2-3 % of Kashmiris give obligatory charity (Zakat). If most of us would give it regularly, we would not need government help to run these places. The classical example is that of Mr. Eidhie of Pakistan.
Finally it is high time for state government to let NRKs come in and help. Some of them have been waiting in the wings for a long time. Kashmiris have a right to private healthcare like anybody else in the world. They just cannot be held ransom by their government not to have an alternative and if they have failed in delivering, then let others come and help. This is true for other sectors of health care as well.
I have personally heard some good things about the chief minister of the state. He himself is father of some young kids and he can feel the pain of those parents who have lost their infants. I believe this is the highest infant mortality known in modern world, even more than some sub Saharan African countries.
We should stop blaming doctors alone. And all of us, including people of Kashmir, mainstream as well as non mainstream leaders, government and also some of us living outside should be ashamed to see what is happening to the real budding “Tulips” of Kashmir. Can one imagine how much we spend on our luxury, but our healthcare is suffering. We all are responsible for this?
(Yousuf Kanjwal, MD is Professor of Medicine in University of Toledo Medical Center, Toledo, Ohio. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 22 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 22 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 23 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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