Since last year, Bihar’s premier government hospital, the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) has become a priority for state government as many announcements, declarations with an installation of medical equipment have taken place.
The above mentioned proclamations are as follows:
- PMCH to become a seven-storey hospital which will be built at an estimated cost of Rs 180 crore funded by the central government and is expected to be functional in 2018. Rs 100 crore has been sanctioned for the construction of buildings, Rs 80 crore will be spent on buying equipment for the hospital.
- The radiotherapy department of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) will get the cancer treatment machines worth around Rs 39 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) by 2019.
- A decision to come up with a Kidney transplant unit in hospital’s emergency building was taken by PMCH administration keeping experts of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)-New Delhi and Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in the loop.
- This month early, Nitish Kumar’s cabinet gave nod to redevelop PMCH into world’s largest 5462-bed hospital. “The cabinet gave its administrative nod for redeveloping PMCH into a world’s largest 5462 bed hospital at an estimated cost of Rs 5540.07 crore. The hospital would be redeveloped by Bihar Medical Services & Infrastructure Corporation Ltd (BMSICL) on a turnkey basis,” said the cabinet secretariat department Principal Secretary Sanjay Kumar.
But a recent visit to PMCH raises serious questions on the intentions of the government to improve it.
While entering the hospital’s main building, a lady who came from Sugauli, East Champaran district for treatment was seen waiting outside the entrance of the hospital holding the saline bottle in her own hand with the patient lying on the ground. The reason of behind waiting outside emergency ward was non-availability of a hospital bed.
The hospital staff asked them to wait until a bed got vacant. As head of the family, Prem Mahto with a broken hand expressed his concern on this behaviour from the hospital management.
A middle-aged man who came down from Bhojpur for treatment was found lying on the bed in the emergency ward with one of his family member holding the medicinal bottle in his own hand. There was no metal holder for holding it up.
In the middle of the emergency ward, a patient was found lying on the floor with the saline bottle hanging on an electrical wire.
Walking towards the exit gate in the corridor, a patient was again found lying on the floor without the hospital bed.
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Burn ward has no restriction and precautionary measures to follow. Patients had their acquaintances along with them without any preventive measure against infection. They just had a mosquito net as their body cover.
The pediatric ward is under constant visit of doctors and nurse but has insufficient space. On the other hand, family members and acquaintances of patients did not have any shelter to reside temporarily until the treatment continues. They cook their food outside the main building using their own small sized-gas cylinders. There is no waiting area inside or outside the building of the hospital.
The water and food supply is improper within hospital premises. There are only two water filters. To fetch water is to be part of long queue which often leads to chaos and quarrel. There is no food canteen facility for visitors or relatives of patients.
The owner of a small shop just next to the exit gate of PMCH expressed his concern about the hospital. His visual experience of PMCH for 8 long years on treatment facilities and management is a depressing truth. In reply to a question whether he would choose PMCH for treatment or not, he refused by saying:
“This place has put many lives in risk. All those who are economically weak and backward, come to PMCH out of compulsion”.
A somewhat same reply was of a security guard of SBI ATM, near the hospital. In simple words, he said, “Only economically weak people come to PMCH keeping their lives on risk. I never saw a VVIP or any economically strong person coming to Bihar’s largest government hospital for treatment”.
BIHAR ONCE WITH FASTEST GDP GROWTH BUT WITH AN ALL-TIME ABSYMAL HEALTHCARE:
In 2017, the overall economy of Bihar grew at 7.6%, higher than the national growth average of 7.1% but the condition of government hospitals is in shambles. When one notices the 2016 analysis and data of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) which said, “Bihar spends Rs 348 per person per year on health, less than half India’s average of Rs 724 per person per year”. The state government needs to counter the catastrophic health expenditure for three reasons:
- Bihar’s majority of the population find hard to afford treatment in private hospitals;
- There is high dependence on the private sector healthcare in Bihar just due to inadequate public healthcare facilities both quantitatively and qualitatively;
- Lastly, without viable and universal health coverage, it is impossible for any state to prosper, however, it may focus on development.
In this situation, the government needs to sensitize the public healthcare system. All announcements and efforts to mend the state’s premier government hospital is a hopeful initiative but the realization to fulfil basic requirements of patients should be the first step.
Definitely, there are some changes in the management of hospitals such as an increase in the number of security personals, CCTV cameras all-round the hospital campus but the patients and their caretakers have to go through immense hardships. The countable numbers of changes are just a “top-dressing” gesture and shouldn’t be confused with a big leap of improvements. Proper supplies of water, food, sanitation, hospital bed, routine checkup, availability of medicines etc., are real and urgent need of the hour.
If the largest government hospital of the state is in such sorry state of affairs, can we imagine the hollowness of the primary healthcare comprised of- Sub-Centre (SC), Primary Health Centre (PHC) and Community Health Centre (CHC)?
The decision to overhaul PMCH and make it a “world’s largest 5462-bed super-speciality hospital” is a welcome step but its current condition gives us many contradictions which prove that the hospital is in a state of despair. If Susashan in Bihar means good governance then the present public healthcare needs deep introspection and rectification at the earliest.