English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Is there no disease in our country other than Covid-19?

Is there no disease in our country other than Covid-19?

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan deserves plaudits for arranging the admission of a three-year-old child to the All India Institute of Medical Science. The Minister’ intervention came in the wake of a heartrending news story.

“Three-year-old Anshuman has barely eaten in the last few weeks,” The Times Of India reported on April 17. “He spends his days clinging on to his grandmother who tries to keep him cool in the scorching Delhi heat. His cries of pain are barely audible, drowned out because he has no energy left. The toddler is staying at a makeshift shelter camp barely hundred metres away from AIIMS where he was being treated for blood cancer until a month ago.”

The reporter, Anam Ajmal, wrote a good news story, complemented by an equally evocative photograph by Rajesh Mehta of the child in his grandmother’s arm. That the country’s largest selling English newspaper had to report about the plight of the child and a Union Cabinet Minister had to intervene personally speak volumes about the callousness and clumsiness of the system, exacerbated by the nationwide lockdown.

A few days ago, I had asked a Health Ministry official as to why non-corona patients were denied medical care. He too found the situation bad. “But we never asked hospitals to shut down,” he said, adding that the Ministry would look into the matter.

In normal circumstances, the health infrastructure is grossly inadequate. With the rise in coronavirus cases and then the imposition of lockdown, it has become extremely difficult for non-corona patients to get medical treatment. Elective surgeries—that is, the non-emergency surgeries—have been postponed indefinitely. And it’s not that everybody needing urgent attention is getting it. A few days ago, Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital refused emergency admission to a general category patient because of overcrowding. Out-patient departments of OPDs of hospitals have been shut down.

Fewer than 500 people have died because of the coronavirus in India, whereas about 1,200 persons die every day because of tuberculosis; many more perish because of various other ailments. But in the last few weeks, few healthcare facilities are available to the non-corona patients—as if there is no disease in our country other than Covid-19..