As Haryana CM gets admitted to Medanta, an indictment of public healthcare in Gurugram

Gurugram: At around 2:30 am on Tuesday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar who had tested positive for COVID-19 was admitted to the Medanta Hospital here for treatment after being flown in from state capital Chandigarh.

The Haryana Chief Minister now joins a list of other central and state leaders who have been admitted to Medanta for treatment. While several questions may have been raised over the ethics of private hospitals in the city, the lack of a suitable public-run alternative has ensured that these private hospitals always get patients.

For long, there has been a demand for a state-of-the-art public hospital in Gurugram, a wish that continues to remain unfulfilled. The inadequacies of the public health care system in Gurugram have ensured that most of the burden of treating COVID-19 patients is being borne by private doctors. Of the 4,700 beds that have been reserved for COVID-19 patients, only 500 beds are in the city's lone government hospital.

The state of the pathetic healthcare system has been a major challenge long before COVID-19 pandemic hit Gurugram. For a city that has a population of more than two million people, the government hospitals barely provide 400 beds.

Despite being declared unsafe many times, the Gurugram Government Hospital near Sadar Bazaar which was set up in 1975 continued to be operational thus putting the lives of patients and staff at risk. In November 2019 after several complaints, the Haryana government decided to close the hospital, destroy the old building and make a new 500-bedded hospital in the area.

To accommodate the patients, makeshift operations at Sector-10 Government hospital were started. It is at this hospital that both COVID-19 and non-COVID patients receive treatment. Among several deficiencies that are present at the government hospital is that it still does not have fire safety clearance.

Meanwhile, the construction of a new government hospital that was to begin with the demolition of the old building has been stalled due to the pandemic. From patients dying due to lack of ambulances to women giving birth in washrooms, shocking incidents have been reported earlier.

The new AIIMS in Gurugram's neighbouring area of Manethi has also been stuck because the proposed land for setting up the superspecialty hospital comes under the Aravalli forest area.

The proximity to Delhi has also ensured that the Haryana Government has been provided with an excuse to not develop the public healthcare system for so long. Earlier, most patients were referred to Delhi public hospitals like Safdarjung and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for treatment. The burden to Delhi hospital further increases as the Gurugram public healthcare system still does not possess an effective trauma centre.

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