Dismal health facilities in Arunachal

Dear Editor,
The health system in our state needs some serious intervention. It has failed in many terms.
It is said that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. People needing proper healthcare is increasing due to the growth of population, but quite sadly, the meagre budget allocation has become a challenge to the people seeking health facilities and to the so-called welfare state.
This issue has become a humongous state of affairs, with poor governance adding to the factors responsible for the poor healthcare for the people. The same can be explained with the common example of the lack of basic services contributing to endless communicable and non-communicable diseases.
The poor governance was evident in the recent incident in Gorakhpur, in Uttar Pradesh, where several innocent children lost their lives due to lack of oxygen in the hospitals.
As health is a multifaceted issue and is affected by several factors, it becomes an ardent necessity to socially understand the crux of the issue prevailing in our society.
The generic, or for that matter false and substandard, drugs being provided through government supplies and also found in drug houses without well-monitored and mountainous prices, are swallowing the hard-earned money of the poor. Unnecessary referrals and diagnostic suggestions have led to unnecessary expenses. The need for special rescue services are felt in our community, as such services in any area plays a vital role in augmenting the health services.
On the other hand, the health budget allocation to Arunachal Pradesh in the health sector is minimal. According to the World Bank, India’s current per capita health spending is extremely low, which is below the WHO’s low income countries benchmarks. This is reflected in quantitative and qualitative aspects of the health facilities. For example, the doctor-patient ratio and the patient-bed ratio tell on the wide gaps to be filled in. These figures can further worsen as the population of the state is on the rise.
Through the private sector health services, especially the Ramakrishna Mission Hospital, Itanagar, since about four decades, health delivery facilities have somewhat eased the pressure of the increasing demand of the rapidly growing population, but, unfortunately, it is mostly unregulated in others facilities.
The practitioners, laboratory technicians, diagnostic centres, and pharmaceutical parties are thoroughly exploiting the patients and their relatives in extracting money for profit, as they are not well-regulated.
The other issue, which is a fact, is that the paramedical employees and even doctors of government hospitals (National Health Mission) are underpaid and overburdened with duties both in space and time. The working hours sometimes extend to bloody hours continuously.
My personal observation is that the health scenario can never be improved without improving state governance. The practice of corruption has to be minimized, if not curbed altogether. There has to be a sense of owning and accountability from all the stakeholders. There is a dire need of an integrated and comprehensive policy with inter-sectoral approach and modern modes of administration.
I am writing this note on the recent tough and difficult situations faced by myself and my family in giving basic amenities of healthcare to my mother. My submission is that, there is a dismal state of affairs in the district hospital in Daporijo, with no basic amenities for taking the referred patients.
Where have the following boastful programmes and provisions of Arunachal Pradesh disappeared: emergency oxygen supply, critical care ambulance, mobile medical vans of the NHM, and ambulances.
My sincere gratitude is to the Ningte Miri Multi Purpose Cooperative Society of Daporijo for providing the much-needed ambulance to evacuate my mother to Itanagar on 15-16 May.
Bikash Bage,
Dept of Sociology,
Rajiv Gandhi University