With more than 70 children dead in Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Hospital, the entire country seems to be pondering the condition of children’s healthcare system in our country. While this sudden death of so many children brought the Gorakhpur hospital under criticism straightway, there are numerous hospitals across the country where such deaths go majorly unreported. A case in point is the Kolkata-based Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy Memorial Hospital For Children.
The largest government hospital for children in eastern India, the Dr. B C Roy Memorial Hospital caters mostly to the needs of the poor people, especially those who come from other districts of Bengal and states of eastern India to get their children treated. However, in spite of it being a children’s hospital, the Dr. B C Roy Memorial Hospital lacks the basic infrastructure (both in terms of amenities and hygiene) requisite of an important hospital. Every year innumerable children, including newborns, die in this hospital, but no one bats an eyelid as if it’s a normal case. When the death toll reaches an extreme level, minor protests occur only to be subdued in some time. With the state of affairs like this in a reputed government children’s hospital, one may be assured of how the exact condition of healthcare in the “most progressive state in eastern India” is like.
According to Abhijit Sarkar, who had come all the way from Birbhum district to get his son treated, he had journeyed for over six hours and stood in a queue with his son for over two hours only to have the consultation with the doctor completed in two minutes.
And this is not Sarkar’s own story – the doctors of the hospital are blamed with the same charge over and over again by people visiting the hospital from far off locations. Nearly four years back, 55 newborns had reportedly died in the hospital one after the other. An advisory committee was set to investigate the incident but reports majorly blamed the infrastructure of the hospital for the same. Later, Mamata Banerjee herself visited the hospitals and gave a clean chit to the hospital and its doctors – thereby sealing the entire matter from reaching much people’s ears.
It is not just about this particular hospital in the state. Most of the government hospitals in Kolkata – and we are not even venturing into the districts – are epitomes of dwindling and failing healthcare system in the state. Garbage pits are quite common inside the hospital campuses – whether it is the Calcutta Medical Hospital or the National Medical Hospital in the state. It is said that the hospitals run out of beds and medicines but the reality is crude and different. Ample of beds – which are supposed to be free beds or beds a patient can hire with meager amount – can be seen bereft of any patient (mostly used by the ward boys and nurses to rest at night) while the pavements inside the campuses are blocked by patients as they fail to “afford” the beds. Patients suffering from heinous diseases die in the corridors of the hospital for lack of any treatment at all – let alone proper treatment.
While the government officials agree that there is a discrepancy in the healthcare services in the state, they never fail to remind you that in the entire country, Bengal is the only place where 70% of the people avail government health services. And why not! It won’t be wrong to term Bengal as being one of the costliest places to avail healthcare in – reason enough for common people to resort either to government healthcare or go down south or to Mumbai to get proper treatment. Either way, it is a failure for the common people. The private hospitals in the state are no success either, with some of the best names being synonymous with slaughter houses.
Yet, the rest of the country nothing much about the same. No news is reported, even though lives are lost every now and then.