Free Press Journal

Playing politics with healthcare


Blood pressure measuring.Blood pressure measuring. Doctor and patient. Health care. picture credit:

How can anyone justify the cancellation of a private hospital for the negligence of a lone doctor? What about the resulting hardships of the in-patients, and the deprival of medical help to tens of thousands living in the vicinity of the hospital? Again, would you shut down the entire public transport system for the negligence of a lone bus driver? Or ground an entire airline for the failure of a lone pilot? Such basic questions are irrelevant when the motivation is crude populism.

The Kejriwal Government in Delhi recently cancelled the license of a Max Hospital following the tragic case of a doctor who declared one of the prematurely born twin babies dead. When on the way to the funeral the parents found pulse in one of the babies, they rushed back to the hospital but, sadly, the baby did not survive for long. The media hue and cry made the Delhi Government play to the public gallery. The truth is that the State has failed to provide basic minimum healthcare facilities to the people at a reasonable cost.

The private sector hospitals, including a few hospital chains, exploit patients for excessive profiteering. Instead of ensuring adequate funds for the health sector, and improving the woeful state of the existing public hospitals, politicians indulge in gimmicks. In the neighbouring Gurugram, where the parents of a little girl who died of a viral fever, were presented a bill of over Rs 14 lakhs, the State Government has threatened to cancel the land allotment of the hospital. Given that we have barely two hospital beds per 1,000 people, whereas the WHO prescription is five per 1,000, shutting down hospitals is not the way to resolve our problems of healthcare. Opening new hospitals, both in the public and private sectors, with strict controls on pricing and quality of healthcare, is the only way out. There should be no politics in matters of public health.