Burgeoning Population and Scant Public Facility

I was watching on NDTV a programme on poor state of government hospitals. How poor patients have to knock one hospital door to other for diagnostic tests. How a cancer patient is asked to come back after 7 months for MRI scan. How private hospitals charge 12000 for a scan that is unaffordable. 

This brings to focus, even in capital city of Delhi there is not a decent clean government hospital.  Visit to an unclean and unkempt government hospital is sufficient to make a healthy person sick. Patients have to share a bed many a time. Dogs freely roam around wards. Doctors are underpaid, overworked as a result indifferent to plight of patients. Diagnostic machines like CT, MRI, etc are either not available or in working condition. But poor in Delhi and its neighbourhood have not many choices. People do not have even dirty unclean facility that we call hospital in small towns and villages.

In Delhi, AIIMS is a tertiary care hospitals. Doctors here are expected to do state of the art medical research. Only very difficult to treat diseases should be referred to AIIMS. Situation, however, is very different. Patients from Delhi and neighboring states, line up at AIIMS OPD in a serpentine queue. Many patients camp outside neglecting heat, cold and rain. There is not place to hold so many patients and visitors. AIIMS has a dormitory for patients, it is usually full. Many guest houses have cropped up near AIIMS. Some stay there. Many others, who have sold their family holdings to raise money to treat their near and dear ones, cannot afford the luxury of staying in a guest house.

In Delhi there are many private / corporate hospitals and nursing homes. Hospitals like Fortis, Apollo, Max, Medanta are state of the art. But many patients cannot afford them unless they have an insurance. Private hospitals try to fleece poor patients. They charge a lot of money but do not offer facility. I know of an ICU patient, who was being charged at least five times more than the general ward, was not even provided with a functional ECG / Heart Rate monitor. I think, India needs to create many many facilities to cater to a billion plus population. Only few patients should find a need to travel to state capital for treatment, let alone national capital.

The discussion on hospitals brings to mind how unabated population pressure is making our public services meaningless not only for the poor and the needy, but for everyone. Every year we see a mad rush to get into primary schools. Parents would give a hand and a leg to get their kids admitted to a school in Delhi. Admission to a good college is a nightmare. With cut off mark reaching almost 99%. Good housing is either scant and or unaffordable. Many people have to commute more than an hour on way to reach their place of work daily. 

It is worth mentioning that by 2022, India will be the most populous country in the world. India must create more cities. Decongest mega cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore etc. Create better infrastructure for transport within the city as well as between cities. While policy making is stalled in parliament, when will family planning and population control be an important agenda of national interest? Is a poor, uneducated, illiterate, malnourished population an asset? When will we look at population explosion from human angle and not in rupee or dollar term?

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