Death in childbirth in the 21st century !
The tragedy of it all
The sense of foreboding has turned out to be tragically true. Barely 24 hours after nine major student organisations of Manipur, AMSU, ATSUM, ANSAM, KSO Ghq, MSF, DESAM, KSA, SUK and AIMS issued a statement expressing deep apprehension that many people could die not due to COVID-19 but due to other ailments, came the tragic news of how a young expectant mother passed away, after at least five hospitals, Government and private turned her away. Tragic it certainly is but take a hard look at the reality and this should more than say that Manipur is not at all ready to face the pandemic, which has stretched health care systems to their limits all over the world. On the other hand, it also stands true that Manipur stands much better off than many other States and it says something profound that the failure to prepare for a pandemic of this dimension should come out at the cost of a life, which could have been easily avoided. Everyone should take note of certain basic facts too. The very fact that the young expectant mother was rushed to the hospital, first at Senapati and then later to Imphal, should more than imply that her condition was indeed serious or complex. Say Oktan (Puichi) village in Tamenglong district, the place from where the young lady hailed from, and more than 90 percent of the people in other places of Manipur, would respond, Oktan where ? That she was rushed to the hospital late in the night from a rarely heard of village should more than say that her condition was critical and the fact that she was denied admission by at least five hospitals, despite showing her COVID-19 negative status should tell the story of how messed up the fight against the virus is. It also stands that the necessity to rush a pregnant woman to the hospital is something should have been anticipated and the very fact that nine student organisations issued a statement addressing this point should say so many things.
Somewhat akin to closing the door after the horse has bolted, but on the same day that the unfortunate lady passed away, State Health Department issued a strongly worded notice that befitting action would be taken up if any Government hospital, private hospital and other medical establishment deny medical services to non-COVID-19 patients during the pandemic. Would have made so much more sense if such a notification had been issued earlier. Anyone would have foreseen that the hospitals in Manipur would be hard pressed in the face of the pandemic, but no one woke up to the ugly possibility that was just waiting to strike. The strongly worded notification was in line with the absolutely avoidable death, but again it is disheartening to note that no helpline number has been issued for the sick and ailing to contact the hospitals before hand. Why not open dedicated hotline numbers to deal with non-COVID-19 patients who may need immediate medical care ? Or is this asking for too much ? Given the seriousness of the issue here, it is also very important for the Government to set up a committee to ensure that those needing medical help, other than COVID-19 are attended to. Time also right for the Government to take inputs from doctors and nurses and those who are directly involved in treating patients and not rest easy with suggestions from other sources.