Election gimmick to keep people in good humour

SILCHAR, Sept 8: Come elections, come unlimited promises. ‘One hospital a day’ as promised by Himanta Biswa Sarma, Health Minister of Assam, is part of the well known ‘development gimmick’ to play to the gallery. Common people are only bemused to hear that in the coming five months starting from October, 161 new hospitals will be set up.
General hospitals will cost rupees one crore and model hospital rupees five crore each. With that will begin the festival of foundation stones. A revolutionary chapter in the medical history of Assam, indeed! After elections, another chapter to begin. Better not to load the mind with thought of tomorrow. What about the existing hospitals called primary health centres and sub centres? It is better to cite specific instances. On a surprise visit to Kalain first referral hospital on August 26, 35 km from here, the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar Harendra Kumar Dev Mahanta found it in a deplorable condition. The building has developed several cracks. In the event of shower, outside rain water makes way inside the premises. He has to ask the hospital management to have proper drainage system in order to prevent flow of water from outside. Water supply by PHE is limited to 45 minutes only in a day which can hardly meet the needs of hundreds of patients.
There is no AC installed in the operation theatre. The Deputy Commissioner has to sanction necessary fund for AC installation. Electrical arrangements have been found defective and asked the department concerned to improve it. The store room for medicines and drugs, now under construction, has not been in a proper place. He also noted that no action has been taken by the management to implement the recommendations of NRHM consultant Dr Hira for the improvement and upgrading of operation theatre and labour room.
He further discovered that the laparoscopic machine of the hospital has been shifted to Borkhola PHC. Expressing his anguish, Deputy Commissioner directed that it should be brought back. In July, 120 babies were born. Of them, mothers of only 15 have been given the benefits under ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana’ and ‘Mamta’ schemes.
On a visit to the proposed Chotomamda model hospital for which rupees four crore has been released, the Deputy Commissioner found the Medical Officer Rahim Barbhuiya Siddique absent, who alleged people, comes in a blue moon. There is no pharmacist. Nor is there labour room though Rs 9.25 lakh has been released for the same. In view of public complaints, Dev Mahanta has to direct the doctors, paramedical staff and others to remain present in the hospital from 8 am to 1 pm. The story of PHCs and SHCs being in mess is not different from one another.
The story of Silchar Medical College for which Rs 100 crore has been sanctioned is not in any way different. Patients are virtually forced to buy medicines from pharmacies even as it is supposed to keep sufficient stocks of free medicines. Numerous chemist shops have mushroomed along the Medical College campus which make rich profit as most of the patients purchase medicines from them. It is the same tale with other government hospitals. The Medical College despite huge financial cover has been hit by shortage of doctors, nurses and ward boys. Unless the functioning of existing hospitals and PHCs is improved, adding more treatment centres will only add to chaos without any semblance of service to people. (The Sentinel)

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