Friday, July 20, 2007

Not enough power for Government hospitals

Sometimes one feels that the state of governance in India is really the pits, and we have a long way to go before we can claim to be anywhere near a developed country. We only need to take a look at our critical infrastructure (such as power, water, roads, ports, etc) that are necessary to develop well and provide a good standard of living to our citizens, and to provide a good jumping ground to our industries. It is only the satisfactory development of our industries and economy that can drive up the overall development of the country.
And what is the state of governance in our country? Good governance means being able to provide a good government to people, which in turn breaks down into a number of steps such as being able to provide basic amenities, law and order, and so on. Providing dependable medical care is one of these requirements. But does anybody really think that we are providing a good medical infrastructure to our citizens, especially those who cannot afford the luxury of going to private hospitals. Well, if you do believe that our Governments are behaving well, take a look at this report:

In a shocking instance of poor infrastructure in government hospitals, surgeons of the Tirunelveli Government Hospital in Tamil Nadu are often forced to use battery-powered torchlights during surgeries due to frequent power problems. At least 50 per cent of the operations were done using torchlights in between as lights provided at the operation theatre goes off due to power fluctuation, a senior surgeon of the hospital in Tirunelveli, about 150 km from Madurai, said.
Though the hospital had the latest gadgets for performing dialysis, heart surgery etc, power supply was a major problem, the surgeon said. Dean of the Hospital Dr Hemalatha admitted that there was power problem, but denied operations being performed using torch light. But most of the surgeons at the hospital said "torch light operations are being done.

Firstly, the Government is not able to supply adequate power, a common problem across the country. But this is a man-made problem, with successive Governments not caring to properly anticipate the increase in need for power, and not setting up the required generation capabilities. In addition, most State Electricity Boards (SEB's) are in the red because they have to supply cheaply to many sections of consumers such as farmers for political reasons, and hence are never in a good financial condition.
In addition to these, transmission and distribution losses are an incredible percentage (a criminal wastage), and yet cracking down on power theft is seen as a problem due to political repercussions, and hence we lose a massive amount of power from our generating capabilities.
In these cases, most private sector units have their own power generation capabilities, and hence use generator or bigger plants. And for a hospital, since there is no concept of accountability built into the government run system, a generator can get burnt or spoilt, and yet nobody is held accountable for their responsibility. This needs to change; and it's no wonder that private companies with their concept of setting expectations and responsibilities normally are much better. Anybody who has money will go to a private hospital rather than a Government one.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 3:36 AM