Kerala’s famous healthcare model flops at the most critical time

Thiruvananthapuram: The acclaimed Kerala model of Covid care has gone for a toss. Some of recent tales of inhuman and callous behaviour by hospital staff towards Covid patients have brought shame to the state, with Union health minister Harsh Vardhan recently telling other states to learn from Kerala’s mistakes.

In one of the most bizarre incidents, a senior citizen undergoing treatment at the Government Medical College Hospital here was found with maggots wriggling on the infected wound on his head. When his relatives discovered his plight, they raised an alarm and complained to the health minister and the state human rights commission.

The man, who is now recovering, told a news channel that he plans to sue the hospital for the inhuman treatment meted out to him.

There have been a number of cases where bodies have been mixed up and handed over to the wrong families. In one instance, the body of a Covid patient was dumped in the mortuary for about two weeks, without informing his family about the death.

There was also the curious case of a man handing over food meant for his father, who had already been dead for some days. But the hospital staff kept receiving the food packets, which they promised to pass on to the patient. Later the son discovered to his horror that his father had already died.

A telephone conversation between a nursing superintendent and her staff over the death of a patient because the oxygen mask was lying on his bed, instead of being fixed on his face. A conscientious young lady doctor was seen in tears on a video on the sorry state of affairs.

Another indication of the failure of Kerala’s health care, widely acknowledged as the best in the country and considered comparable to that in advanced European countries, was the consistent spike in the daily caseloads, while the rest of the states were in fact registering consistent declines.

There have even been days when the number of new cases in the state surpassed those of Maharashtra, which accounted for the country’s highest number for a long time since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The provocation for the Union minister to show the thumbs down to the Kerala’s performance was the lowering of caution by the people during the Onam festival, which is believed to have led to things going out of control. The festival saw people crowding marketplaces and relatives visiting families as if Covid had been seen off.

The minister’s statement, in fact, led to a controversy, with the state government alleging that it was part of the efforts to bring disrepute to Kerala. This has been one of the central themes in chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s speeches at various functions, of course, held online.

He alleges that some of the stray incidents are being blown out of proportion to make it appear that Kerala’s healthcare system has failed.

The opposition has been using these cases to highlight the failure of the state government to effectively handle the Covid crisis, as, according to them, the ministers are obsessed with PR rather than fighting the disease.

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