Millennium Post

Wake up to the needs of diseased

The conditions around AIIMS, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences is abysmal. The thousands who come to get treated or come to get their family members treated are left literally, out in the cold, thanks to inadequate shelter. A television channel has recently highlighted the plight of patients who are forced not just to battle illness but extreme conditions like the unearthly temperature of three degrees that the city had to brace for on Friday morning. They have nowhere to go and often find shelter on the roads in and around AIIMS, an unspeakable plight. Renting a room is out of the question because most of the patients coming to AIIMS from outside Delhi are often poor farmers and labourers and renting a room in Delhi is an impossible task for them. The only option is to rent hole-in-wall rooms at far flung slums or just stay out in the cold. For logistic reasons and to curtail travelling time and money, families of patients prefer living nearby, even if it is under the unforgiving sky of the winters. Sometimes even the concerned patient has to live on the roads, in between treatment.

Surely AIIMS is doing its bit for treatment of thousands of poor across the country but clearly the hospital needs to do more for families who are staying with the patient, who cannot be risked to become patients themselves, thanks to the difficult conditions that they have to live in. As per estimates, AIIMS is visited by about 8,000 patients daily and 600-700 have to stay back waiting for appointment or to avail post-treatment facilities and consultation.

They mostly stay on the roads, many too poor to go home and come back again. Delhi Health Minister A K Walia has reportedly promised work on another patent-family shelter on priority, the existing one being full to the last corner most of the time. The government at both the state and union level should wake up to the needs of the hospital and do all they can to ensure that the premiere hospital is not beset with such shoddy infrastructure.

However, the real problem is that many more hospitals of the AIIMS category are needed across the country. Unless the AIIMS experience can be reproduced in nodal areas across the country, the problem will not be addressed. And health care as a whole must receive a shot in the arm. Unless the government can stem the pressure of patients from far flung areas by taking to them AIIMS rather than asking them to come, AIIMS will keep losing its face. After all, there is a limit to what a single AIIMS can do to a country of a billion.
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