Difficult days ahead

Uploaded on June 17, 2020

Difficult days ahead

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

The Corona conundrum is deepening everyday as a spike is reported from most areas. There is a great scarcity of beds in government hospitals. Only till a couple of weeks ago the rich were certain that they would get a bed, emergency equipment and critical care in one of the several private hospitals in metros, even if it costs them Rs. 20 lakh for a period of hospitalisation. However, now these costly hospitals are reporting severe shortage of beds and critical equipment like ventilators.

If this is the situation in metros imagine the helplessness of village health centres, block and district-level hospitals. Without sufficient number of properly-trained doctors, nurses, auxiliary hospital staff like lab and x’ray technicians and sanitation workers these so-called hospitals and health centres are of no use in such a great medical emergency.

As CV-19 strikes the respiratory system, it often requires ventilators to maintain breathing and keep the lungs from collapsing leading to death. At such a crucial moment there is an acute shortage of ventilators across the country. The actual cost of medication in a hospital, big or small, government or private, would not come to more than a few hundred rupees, but private hospitals (which are mainly business centres rather than places of healing) have upped the ante. One big private hospital in the national capital has created a LED board outside its main gate which brazenly says a day’s stay at the hospital costs Rs. 52,000.

Imagine where will the vast majority of our common people find succor. Meanwhile   business deals are being struck across health sector which are scandalous and likely misuse of public funds. Gujarat government has purchased 5,000 “ventilators” called Dhaman-I at about Rs. 100,000 each, which is said to be one-fifth the price of a regular ventilator. This contraption was hurriedly put together in the factory of an entrepreneur who is close to chief minister Rupani.

Promoters of this purchase claimed that Dhaman-I worked well in “less serious cases”. However, the fact remains that ventilators are not at all required for “less serious cases”. A more worrisome aspect of this deal is that the manufacturer had warned Dhaman-I did not have four crucial components, which had to be brought from outside before delivering them to hospitals. Congress party leaders said these machines were delivered to hospitals and used without these crucial components.

This could be one of the worst instances of crony capitalism thriving in India at the cost of suffering Indian masses. All this was happening in Gujarat where till June 10 the Covid death rate was 6.24 per cent compared to 2.87 per cent national average. Not unusually, Muslims are being made a scapegoat for this tragedy. A section of the media has been drumming up the disinformation that though Muslims constitute less than 15 per cent of Ahmadabad population, 60 per cent of the Covid cases are found among them. To that Muslims have replied that almost exclusively Covid cases in Muslim areas have been counted and cases in Hindu areas have been undercounted or not counted at all.

This trend shows that even in a national emergency the ill will against Muslims continues. Quite often the establishment is seen (as reflected in the captive media) fighting Muslims instead of fighting Corona. The days ahead are going to be difficult, and doubly so for Muslims.


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