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Ground reality of HP Govt’s decrepit health services

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Zonal Hospital Mandi short of beds

Mandi: A case relating to the death of a newborn due to the apathy of the Himachal Pradesh Health Department aptly underlines the fact that the State is still far from delivering quality health services.

The insensitivity of the department could be judged from the fact that not only pregnant ladies but those with the newborns were provided with no beds in the maternity ward of the Zonal Hospital, Mandi.

The latest example surfaced after a neonate succumbed to death within 36 hours of birth at the said hospital. As per a Hindi daily, the mother and newborn baby did not get a bed and spent the cold night on a mattress laid down on the floor outside the labour room.

Health Services in Hiamchal PRadesh

A mother with her newborn left on the floor after delivery due to shortage of beds Photo: Amar Ujala

The parents of the deceased baby alleged carelessness on the part of the staff. The nurses were approached by a family member twice as the baby kept crying continuously, but no one attended the baby, the parents told the Hindi daily.

The baby died on the hospital floor. However, the hospital administration claims that the mother and baby were already discharged and the death occurred at the home. 

As per the doctors, the baby died of pneumonia and jaundice after being discharged and that at the time of the discharge the baby was fine. 

Newborn dies in Mandi hospital

Outside the Labor Room of Zonal Hospital, Mandi Photo: Amar Ujala

Surprisingly, a few days ago, the media reports had revealed that the Zonal Hospital of Mandi was short of beds due to which a large number of pregnant ladies and those with newborns are left with no choice but to suffer on the hospital floor in chilling cold.

Some dailies had even published pictures showing mother and newborns lying on the floor outside the labour room.

As per the sources, there were only 40 beds in the Gynecology Ward of the hospital while the number of patients is above 135.

The major cause for this shortage of beds can be attributed to the vacant posts of doctors in the gynaecology departments of the hospitals in Kullu and Sundernagar. Pregnant ladies and other patients face huge inconvenience to reach the Zonal Hospital, Mandi.

Further, the hospital is attached to the  Lal Bahadur Shastri Government Medical College, Nair Chowk, and patients arrive here from Bilaspur and Hamirpur in hope of cheaper treatment.  

However, the department did not consider it worth much attention, but now as a newborn has died, the Health Minister says an inquiry has been ordered. Mostly such government inquiries hardly reach any conclusions. 

Health Services Are Tip-Top For Govt.

In 2012, Himachal Watcher had reported similar conditions at the State’s biggest lady reading Kamala Nehru Hospital, Shimla.

In papers, during the last budget session, the government had claimed it spent 1.43 percent of State Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or say Rs. 2600 per person on health. The Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur, while answering a question raised by the opposition in a Legislative Assembly session, had claimed that Himachal spent Rs 1689 crore during the current financial year to strengthen the health sector in the state, which, he said, is more than the National average expenditure.

Similar statistics were reported in the National Health Accounts 2014-15 data.

Does the aforesaid incident support this claim of the government that it is spending Rs. 26,000 per capita on health?

The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had been talking about introducing universal healthcare model in the State where no one will be required to pay at the counter of any hospital in the state for treatment.

In this November, Himachal had won the Best State Award in the Big States category in education, infrastructure and overall development to Himachal Pradesh.

Further, theoretically, the government is providing affordable, accountable, and appropriate health services in a meaningful time frame.

However, the ground reality of the decrepit healthcare services in government institutes of the State is altogether different.

Like the rest of the nation, Himachal is still far from receiving quality health services, which are hardly debated by the leaders.

We are still excluding the healthcare that covers nutrition, sanitation and social equity because were are stuck at basic facilities in government health institutions.

The government might have achieved milestones in immunisation, family planning and anti-retroviral treatment, but there is much to be desired from it.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Kotkhai Gudiya case solved, says CBI claiming it was not a gang rape

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Kotkhai gudiya case solved says cbi

Shimla: In yet another mind-boggling development in the Gudiya case, the Central Bureau of Investigation today, while submitting its status report in the Himachal Pradesh High Court, reportedly claimed that it has cracked the case.

The CBI told the court that it was the last status report in the case and that it would file a charge-sheet against the accused within 90 days.

The news has begun to appear in national media where it is being claimed that the agency has finally cracked the blind case of rape and murder.

The PTI reported that the CBI has changed the theory given by the local police and claimed that it was not a case of gangrape. As per CBI, the lone accused, who was identified as Anil Kumar, has been arrested on April 13 based on the DNA reports that matched with the sample taken from victim’s body. The accused was said to be a lumberjack.

The report further said the CBI had found that the accused had been hiding all this time and that he also has a criminal background.

The agency used new DNA percentage matches and lineage matches to crack the case. The agency further claimed that it was after getting multiple scientific pieces of evidence that the accused was identified and arrested.

The investigation was done quietly and away from public scrutiny to ensure culprits don’t escape. Accused was arrested on 13 April and produced before designated Court today. He has been remanded to judicial custody till 7 May,

Abhishek Dayal, CBI Chief Info Officer, told ANI.

However, the court was not satisfied with the status report and asked the agency to file an affidavit on the behalf of its Director.

The next hearing will be conducted on May 8. The court said it would decide whether the CBI Chief to be summoned or not. The CBI defended its Director saying he had been carefully monitoring all the status reports filed in the court.

The CBI counsel tried to convince the court that there was no need to direct the Director to be personally present in the court.

The people of Himachal are bewildered as nine police officials including then Inspector General Zahur H Zaidi, SP of Shimla, DW Negi, and DSP of Theog, Manoj Joshi, were put behind bars by the agency on August 29, 2018.

The CBI charge-sheet filed against the nine police officials alleged the accused of hatching a conspiracy, framing wrong people, and even hacking one of them to death in police custody.

The people believed that some influential and wealthy people influenced the police probe to shield the real culprits. There have been rioting like the situation in Kotkhai region and entire Himachal was echoing with protesting voices. However, now a big question that arises here is that why did local police take such a risk? How can a simple lumberjack influence police SIT and fool the CBI for 10 months?

The reactions of the victim’s parents and locals towards the CBI probe are still awaited. Moreover, in coming days, the agency may come out with a public statement to explain the entire episode and clear the doubts of the people regarding the investigation.

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Road in Mashobra Ward of SMC in tatters for last 10 years

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Road-in-Shimla-MC-Ward-21

Shimla: While the new Government of Himachal Pradesh claims that it has achieved all the targets it had set for the first 100 days, the ground reality doesn’t agree with it entirely.

As per the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, Rs. 100 crores were sanctioned for repair and maintenance of roads, however, even the urban Shimla did not witness these repairs.

Some residents of Mashobra – Lower Dhalli Ward (Number 21) of the Shimla Municipal Corporation wrote to Himachal Watcher regarding the pathetic condition of the road in their locality algonwith pictures of the Mashobra market.  

The road has not been repaired from last 10 years. The problem of water-logging pertains from past 5 years, but the civic body did not attend to it, 

said one of the residents.

Bhartiya Janata Party’s Shalinder Chauhan has been elected for the second time as councillor of the Ward. However, he made only promises to solve this problem, which were never fulfilled,

the resident further added.

Mashobra market

This road leads to famous tourist destinations like Talai, Carignano Nature Park along with government offices like the Regional Horticultural Research Station, Mashobra, and HP Panchayati Raj Training Institute.

Despite the frequent movement of government officials in this Ward, the road did not attract the attention of any single of them.

Several Ministers cross this road and, a few days back, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had organized a national level annual meeting near Talai, but the problem remains invisible to everyone except the locals,

a local youth told HW.

The pedestrians face daily trouble due to the large potholes, which turn into pools of water when it rains. Passing vehicles splash accumulated water on pedestrians. During sunny days, clouds of dust troubles the residents as well as shopkeepers and dhabs located in the market, the residents complained.   

The locals are forced to live in dust and mud for last 10 years, but the problems of the locals did not find a place in media, they further complained.

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Busted: Hindi Daily exaggerated news about delay in handing over dead bodies of Nurpur accident victims

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Tribute to Nurpur school bus accident

Kangra: “If it is published in a newspaper, then the news must be true,” most of the common readers believe.

Unfortunately, journalists do not deserve a blind faith of the people in a country like India where media houses are propelled by profits instead of motives. Journalists often exaggerate and sensationalize reports deliberately, which brings a bad name to the fraternity of journalists.

The most recent reference could be made to a news published by a Hindi Daily regarding the alleged politics over the dead bodies of 23 children who died in the tragic accident of a school bus on April 9, 2018, near Nurpur of Kangra district.

Nurpur School bus accident

Outside Nurpur Hospital on April 10

The Hindi Daily, in  a report published in its April 11 edition, had alleged the district administration of making unnecessary delay in handing over the dead bodies of the victims to their families. The motive, the report alleged, was that the Chief Minister could pay tribute to the bodies as part of a political stunt.

The report went on saying that the bodies of some of the victims, which were already handed over to the families on April 9, were also brought back. The parents kept asking for the bodies while the district administration and a local MLA told them to wait for the arrival of the Chief Minister, the Daily had reported.

It sounds like the cheapest of political stunts. Doesn’t it?

The Chief Minister and the Deputy Commissioner of Kangra, Sandeep Sharma, faced severe criticism after the news was published by the Daily.

pyres of nurpur school bus accident

Pyres of the victims

However, not all the information fed by the reporter of the Daily was factually correct.

Himachal Watcher’s credible friends in media, who were present at the hospital, revealed that there might have been some delay but no dead body was brought back.  The Daily blew the news out of proportion,  we were told.

I was right there outside the mortuary with other reporters and correspondents of news agencies to cover the story. No body was handed over to any of the families on April 9, so there is no question of bringing them back,

a journalist told Himachal Watcher.

Most of the reporters had left the hospital by 10:00 PM, but we stayed there for a while. The gates of the mortuary were locked at about 12:00 PM and no one was allowed to enter thereafter. Therefore, it was a sheer lie, 

the journalist said. 

We also consulted other journalists, who agreed that the news was indeed blown out of proportion.

Such irresponsible and sensational reporting defames the media fraternity, especially the responsible journalists, 

said one of the media persons expressing disappointment with the reporter of the Daily.

The Daily is trying to cover up the matter but the inconsistency in the facts in its follow-up stories is clearly visible.  

The DC, Kangra, on April 12 had issued a press statement terming the news as a misleading one, which turned out to be true. 

The news not only defamed the Chief Minister but also shook the little faith that common men still have in the government and local administration. The newspaper cutting of the Daily did rounds of social media and attracted the wrath of the people.

The message is clear; there is no space for blind trust on media. We need to be careful while going through such sensitive news.

I have just one request to those people who started to share the news clipping on social media. First, try to cross check the facts before opening critical attack on such sensitive matters. It is not about defaming the government but of humanity,

a journalist associated with an English Daily said.   

It was a total breach of trust of the readers as well as those who came across it on social media. 

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