The Tangkhul Mayar Ngala Long (Tangkhul Youth Council), Ukhrul.
In the midst of the Covid19 pandemic as hospitals across the state puts up their best to fight this pandemic, Ukhrul district is barely in the race. Even as the district accounts for the 6th highest covid19 infected in the state with current toll at 110 active case, the lone District Hospital in Ukhrul has their hands full. Moreover, the Covid19 panic within the population has side-lined the pathetic medical public health services in the district.
Truth be told, Ukhrul District Hospital has been on the edge even before we were gripped by the fear of Covid19. Shortage of doctors, nurses, medical equipment and facilities are nothing new to the district’s public health care system and such negligence from the part of the state government has caused various deaths, whether directly and indirectly.
The Ukhrul District Hospital is currently a 50 bedded hospital with a capacity of 100 beds. Yet, even with the 50 bedded capacity, it is a shame how the state government has always kept the hospital short of medical equipment and health personnel. In a hospital that is supposed to house 30 doctors at the least (21 Specialist doctors, 9 Medical Officers), the Ukhrul District Hospital has just 15 doctors, i.e. 8 Medical officers and just 7 Specialist doctors. Manning a district hospital with just 5 specialist who visits just 4 times in a week doctors (excluding the sonologist and radiographer), the Medical officers are overworked. Who is to be blamed?
The hospital also faces shortage of nursing staff with nurses numbering to just 17 nurses, one Nursing Superintendent and one Sis-in-charge against the 35 nursing staffs that should have been employed.
For a population of 1,83,998 (2011 census) in the district, and 92,000 in the Ukhrul town, these figures are worrisome. Looking at these, the doctor-population ratio comes to 1:12,266 and 1:6133 respectively, while the nurse-population ratio comes to1:9684 and 1:4842 respectively. This does fall drastically short of the WHO recommended norm of 1:1,000. At a time when public health remains the utmost concern globally, such negligence from the state government should be considered an offence, and should not be tolerated.
The Ukhrul District Hospital immediately requires four Specialist Doctors at the least, a Medical Specialist, a Surgeon, an Anaesthetist, and an Orthopaedics. One may recall the recent public uproar where a complicated pregnancy case was refused admittance at the District Hospital due to the absence of an Anaesthetist. For how much longer should the public be turned against the scattered medical personnel when it is the fault of the government in the first place?
The absence of a basic wing such as a Blood Bank clearly shows the negligence of the state department. For name sake, EGC and Ultrasound equipment are installed but with no one to man the machines. For a frequently required testing as X-Ray machine where a radiographer is required 24×7, there is only one posted thus, risking the lives of patients in emergency cases. In a time when public healthcare system is supposed to be affordable, patients are forced to travel all the way to Imphal or turn to expensive private hospitals for reasons ranging for basic testing like ultrasound. There have been uncountable cases where patients have died while on the way because the District Hospital had no medical personnel and/or equipment to treat the patient.
It’s time that the public start raising the right questions to the concerned state government. Let’s start with- is the state government treating the hill people differently? Over the decades, the public healthcare system in the district has seen no improvement. So, who will take the blame for the lives lost?
Who is to blame for the huge mistrust between the public and the medical personnel in the district? The state government must be held responsible and answerable for this negligence and the step-motherly treatment that has been met out to Ukhrul district.
The government must immediately take steps to fill the vacancies, increase the bed capacity and improve the medical equipment. The public shall no longer remain a mute spectator.