Millennium Post

Much needed focus on city’s healthcare

Healthcare in the Capital has had for long inverted the well known adage, health is wealth,’ for it seemed, in the bustling metropolises of the country, it was wealth that ensured health. Fortunately, the Delhi government directive issued to all private and public hospitals in the national capital region to provide treatment to victims of rape, accident or acid attacks free of cost is a welcome and much needed development that could help thousands of poor people who would otherwise be unable to seek medical care for the emergencies. Moreover, the state government’s announcement that city hospitals must extend healthcare to everyone, irrespective of payment and that no patient can now be refused further treatment on grounds of non-payment of outstanding bill, is another related step that would prove to be a watershed legislation helping those in dire economic conditions. Denying basic healthcare to the poor and refusing medical facilities to those unable to pay the artificially overpriced bills at private hospitals have together corroded Delhi’s health system. Despite the presence of world-class government-owned hospitals such as AIIMS, Safdarjung among others, Delhi battles a failing healthcare sector, coping with shortage of staff, funds, amenities in the government hospitals, while the private hospitals and clinics charge exorbitant sums to conduct routine examinations, routinely flouting norms set out by the ministry.

Providing utmost medical care to the ailing, particularly to those who have suffered traumatic episodes of targeted violence, such as rape and acid attack, is not just mandatory in medical and legal terms, it is also a crucial element of meting out justice, especially in its delicate preliminary stages. Victims of rape and acid attack ritually face added denigration in the hands of police, law, medical institutions and society-at-large. Continued stigmatisation wreaks havoc on psychological and physiological wellbeing of the victims and ensuring free and holistic care is the cornerstone of plugging the gap. Even as we grapple with rise in violent crimes, we mustn’t let that echo in healthcare too.
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