It was a sordid, unpardonable and classic case of dehumanization of an ethic that enjoys an individualistic loyalty all over the world. I am referring to the tragic case which, the other day, shattered the soul of a mother and made all of us ashamed of a system we value so much.
A three-year-old child was virtually killed in a state-run premier medical institution in Bhubaneswar by sheer recklessness. It was a brazen act of absurdity which hardly can be compensated by a punishment like suspension from duty.
A lonely mother had rushed from a small town, about 30 kms from the state capital, to save her child with fatal injuries on his head and eyes. What set her case apart was the hope of a hapless mother for empathy she had in her mind, from a place that lies just beneath the nose of the state`s ruler, Naveen Patnaik.
Imagine, the emergency ward of the hospital remains plunged into darkness for about an hour and a ward attendant attends a serious case of that nature and conducts the surgery with the help of a candle and a torch light! A case that should not have been dealt with by anyone else other than a surgeon.
When the mother, Phula, lifted the child from the operation table the bandaged head of the child literally separated. Her only child was no more. The only support of her future was sacrificed in the garb of professional dishonesty that seemingly governs the inner ambits of this hospital.
Why was there no standby power supply or why was no other power back-up available? These are the issues for investigators to look at, but why was the concerned doctor not on duty and how could he permit the ward attendant to conduct the surgery. A ward attendant conducting a surgery on a patient with such serious injuries can shock any one in the medical fraternity.
The incident reflects on how malevolence and professionalism can be intertwined in a place where we search for `Gods` in a doctor`s uniform. Couched in the comfort of his official chamber the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital had no regret to express on the reckless state of the management.
"There is an inverter for the emergency but I have to find out why it is not working," was his languid response. Can there be a more irresponsible response?
On enquiring it was revealed that in this hospital, the doctors often remain absent from duty even if a patient is at the hospital waiting for emergency treatment. And in their absence, the subordinates like the dressers or ward attendants wear the lethal garb of substitutes. All this has happened right under the chief minister`s nose but little seemed to have trickled down to the realm of the moral he claims to be his buzz word.
Phula`s world has been ruined. She cannot take on the culprits shielded by a system that allows them to sustain their defiance come what may. All such tragedies usually get buried under the thick of probes which never arrive at any conclusion and the bosses obfuscate the spiteful acts somehow or the other.
If such a neglect can be allowed to go scot-free in the heart of a state capital and in a hospital which is being heralded as a model health centre, imagine what must be happening in the backwaters like Rayagada or Koraput where an epidemic like Cholera has unleashed the terror of deaths.
Phula is back in her damaged shanty, shocked and shattered by the outrageous neglect perpetrated by the hospital. Holding the head of her dead son on her shoulder that night would weigh on her psyche till her death. An impression seems difficult to shake off at this juncture that some impious lot in our so called system would continue to impair the life security of the masses.