Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hospitals turning into tombs in rural India

Surpura (Madhya Pradesh), Feb 11 (IANS)

The paint-peeling single-storey building wears a ghostly look. Cobwebs hang from the walls, used syringes and cotton swabs lie on the blood stained floor and the rooms are in darkness. And the doctor is nowhere to be seen.

Welcome to the block level hospital in rural Madhya Pradesh, one of the country's largest states.Catering to emergency situations of a population of nearly 30,000 people, this scene, shocking to a visitor used to tales of booming medical tourism in five-star city hospitals, is an eye opener to the kind of medical aid the villagers in many areas of rural India receive. It's of no surprise then that, among others, the maternal mortality rate here is very high.The delivery room of the hospital couldn't have been worse with a broken sink, no bed and a dirty toilet. "The midwife gets water from outside since there is no running water," says Sumhira Badhoria, an attendant present. "We hardly get electricity for two hours," she adds.But the most surprising fact is that the doctor who is supposed to be on duty for 24 hours was nowhere in sight at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. "The doctor hardly comes here. He comes about twice a week. We have no choice but to go to the private practitioners and pay a hefty sum," lamented one of the villagers.Although the hospital is supposed to have a staff strength of 10, only two attendants were seen. But if this sight is any bad, then the condition of another village about five kilometres away is worse.Kishupura village has a sub health centre, but broken and abandoned. "No one comes here. The nurse comes twice a month and goes around the village," says Sanjay Singh Badhoria, a farmer of the village.The consequences of such negligence in medical facility?

Heart wrenching stories.

Rekha, 22, was pregnant with her third child when she suddenly started bleeding heavily. Alarmed, her husband and a few relatives hired a car and rushed her to the Surpura block level hospital but after getting no medical assistance there, they had to take her to a private practitioner who gave her some medication.Although the bleeding stopped for some time, it resumed soon after at night. With no other option in hand, they rushed her to the district hospital in Bhind, about 35 km from the village.But by the time the hapless husband could stand in the queue to admit her in spite of saying that it was an emergency, she died."It took us more than half an hour to get her admitted. Then we had to look for the doctor. By that time it was too late," lamented her husband, Anil Singh Badhoria, to the visiting IANS correspondent.Survived by two kids, a boy aged four and a girl aged three, Rekha's story is one of the many that remain hidden behind silent cries of the innocent, motherless children.More than 7,000 women die of pregnancy-related issues in Madhya Pradesh every year contributing to 10 percent of the maternal mortality rate in the country. Globally, India accounts for 20 percent of the maternal mortality rate.

By Azera Rahman

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