Ashutosh Mishra

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: It was heart-rending to read about the plight of the tribal woman who delivered her baby on a footpath within the premises of the Capital Hospital. If such incidents can take place in the capital city one wonders what must be happening in the interior areas of the state.

Pana Murmu’s ordeal can be attributed either to miscalculation or sheer indifference by the doctor whom she had approached upon reaching the largest government hospital in the capital city. The doctor, according to her statement in a section of the media, turned her away saying that hers was not labour pain. But shortly afterward she delivered her baby on the footpath outside the hospital’s blood bank.

The critics of the government cannot be blamed for pointing accusing fingers at the system which is supposed to be functioning much better now following the launch of the much talked about Mo Sarkar scheme which currently has its focus on healthcare and the police system. Cases of indifference towards patients have also been reported from some other parts of the state.

Healthcare has been the Achilles heel of the government which has been struggling on this front for quite some time now. While complaints against infrastructure persist hospitals and health centres also suffer from problems like shortage of doctors and rampant absenteeism among those serving.

As a result, people in many areas have been returning not just dissatisfied but even frustrated from hospitals. The problem is most acute in the state’s tribal belt where the failure of the government-sponsored healthcare system has led to the proliferation of quacks and witch-doctors who are a threat to any civilized society.

The obvious lesson to be drawn from this is that while the government needs to upgrade the health infrastructure in the far off areas it also has to work hard on instilling confidence in the people that its system is reliable and can take care of all their health needs. Inspiring confidence among the masses is not easy. For this there not only have to be a sufficient number of doctors and paramedics in hospitals and health centres but they also have to be dedicated to the work they are doing.

So the government has to ensure that doctors actually work in hospitals and not just mark their attendance. We are better off without those who are not willing to work and have just been marking time. The good news is that the government has now decided to act against “missing” doctors who have not reported for duty for months together.

The most important thing, however, is to ensure that doctors on duty treat their patients in a humane manner. If this happens we won’t have cases like Pana Murmu’s unfortunate footpath delivery. I am sure this can be done. Despite criticism of Mo Sarkar, I am willing to put my trust in the government which has taken a step in the right direction after a long time. The system is not going to become fool-proof overnight. But we must learn to learn from our mistakes.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)