Monday, August 29, 2016
Man carrying wife’s body on shoulders reflects Odisha's healthcare
BHUBANESWAR: The visuals that shocked the world, a man carrying his dead wife on his shoulders in Kalahandi district and two men carrying another woman's body packed in a sack and hung from a bamboo pole in Balasore, reflect the state of healthcare marred by acute shortage of doctors and poor health infrastructure in the state.
The number of health professionals is too less in the government sector compared to the patient overload leaving them to fend for themselves in many cases. Of the sanctioned strength of 4800 doctors in government hospitals (excluding the medical colleges) in the state, around 2000 posts are lying vacant. Of the rest more than 1000 are deputed in the medical colleges.
According to the Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) 2012, Odisha should have at least 7220 doctors including 1198 in 32 district headquarters hospitals (30 districts besides Rourkela General Hospital and Capital Hospital), 577 in 27 sub-divisional hospitals, 3890 in 389 community health centres and 1555 posts in the primary health centres. The overall vacancies in poverty-stricken KBK region are around 60 per cent.
The Kalahandi district headquarters hospital at Bhawanipatna, from where Dana Majhi managed to sneak out unnoticed carrying his wife's body on his shoulders, has 32 doctors, which is around 44% of the sanctioned strength of 72. On Saturday, 94 women were admitted in the female ward with sanctioned bed strength of 10 in the ward. The average daily admission in the hospital for past one year is 225 for its 165 beds, chief district medical officer (CDMO), Kalahandi, Braja Kishore Brahma, said.
Because of acute vacancies of medicos, monitoring and supervision in hospitals are clearly lacking. "Otherwise, how can an attendant quit on his own with a dead patient unnoticed?" said Dr Nirakar Bhatta, president, Odisha Medical Services Association, a body of government doctors.
Despite massive allocation of funds, the health infrastructure in the state is crumbling. Lack of secured boundary walls, rickety indoor departments with dilapidated beds and leaky roofs are common sight, even in district hospitals though the National Health Mission (NHM), budget for the state is Rs 1197.15 crore in 2016-17, which is Rs 247.93 crore more compared to Rs 949.22 crore in 2015-16. The state budget had allocated Rs 739 crore mostly for creation of infrastructure which includes construction of five medical colleges, an analysis of the budget shows.
The government is hard-selling Mahaprayana, a paid hearse service for ferrying dead bodies launched by Naveen earlier this week, on the logic that it would help prevent reoccurrence of such unsaviory episodes. However, that is not going to happen, if doctors are to be believed. "Mahaprayana is a paid service. Private services are already available. But many poor patients can't afford to bear the cost and are unwilling to spend on dead bodies when they don't have money to feed their living kin," said a doctor of Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences where a family had left behind a relative's body last week.
A district-level committee of the Red Cross chaired by the district collector would decide cost of Mahaprayana vehicles. The Kalahandi district Red Cross panel on Friday decided to charge Rs 7 per km while ferrying the bodies from hospital to home.
T N Panda, who runs an NGO, MOTHER ((Multi Organ Transplantation and Human & Educational Research), which promotes organ and body donation, said the government can promote dignity to dead bodies by promoting more organ and body donation of cadavers. "This would help medical colleges get enough bodies for research.
The Bahrain government, moved by reports of a on his shoulder for burial in Odisha, has reportedly offered to extend financial help to the grieving family.