By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 6 Apr: The death of two children for want of treatment at Haldwani Hospital has once again highlighted the apathy of the government’s health machinery in Uttarakhand. Both of those who died were siblings, with the sister being 11 years old, while the brother was 6 years old. The family has alleged refusal of treatment as the reason for the deaths. The hospital administration, on its part, claims that the children died due to tuberculosis, but it has no answer to the allegation why the siblings were not admitted and provided timely treatment.
As per the reports coming from Haldwani, Pappu Pasi, the father of the diseased, claimed that the girl was brought to Base Hospital in Haldwani complaining of headache on Ramnavmi (2 April). The doctors allegedly refused to admit the child or even touch her. On persistent requests by the family, the hospital administration referred her to the Sushila Tiwari Hospital, where she died on the night of 4 April. Even as her dead body was brought home, the condition of her brother worsened. He was taken to a private nursing home in Haldwani, where he was diagnosed as a case of pneumonia. But his condition deteriorated further and he was referred to the Sushila Tiwari Hospital, where the doctors told the family that the emergency was closed. He had to be taken to another private hospital where the doctors started treatment, but within hours they asked the family to take him away as his condition was serious. The private hospital allegedly refused to provide even an ambulance for this. The boy had to be taken home on a scooter and, soon after reaching home, he breathed his last in the arms of his father. Meanwhile, senior health officers are claiming to be unaware of the case and said that they would be in a position to comment only after an inquiry. On the other hand, the Sushila Tiwari Hospital authorities are claiming that both the children had died due to tuberculosis complications and they could not be saved.
However, the bigger question is why the emergency was closed and why the boy was not admitted there. This is not the first such case of apathy by doctors in the government hospitals of the state. Even in Dehradun, there have been cases where women in advanced stage of pregnancies have been refused admission to the Women’s Hospital of Doon Medical College and, in one such case, a woman delivered a dead baby in the toilet of the hospital. Such apathy continues only because no action is taken against the guilty doctors and para medical staff. Inquiries are ordered once the incident becomes an issue but reports never indict the doctors and the apathy continues.
Interestingly, the government claims to be sensitive to the medical requirements of the poor and has launched schemes such as Atal Ayushman but reports of mistreatment, refusal of treatment and callousness on part of the medical staff keep making the headlines in Uttarakhand. Doctors get away scot free after being careless or insensitive. Incidentally, the state has been without a full time health minister for the past 3 years, with the CM handling this department along with the charge of over 40 other departments.