With the Bilaspur sterilization camp deaths still fresh in our minds, the nation wakes up to another horrifying tale of sixty people going blind after going through cataract surgeries at an eye camp in Punjab. Organized by an NGO at Ghuman village in Gurdaspur district ten days ago the victims were all poor villagers from the Gurdaspur district and around Amritsar. Civil surgeon Amritsar, Rajiv Bhalla, informed that the surgeries were performed under severely unhygienic conditions and all the victims have suffered permanent loss of vision. an enquiry has been launched against the NGO and the doctors at the camp.
This blatant negligence to basic surgical standards and protocol is a glaring example of how little human life and wellbeing is worth in India. These same doctors would adhere to strict hygiene norms treating their well to do patients at nursing homes and clinics. Yet they seem to have forsaken the responsibility of ensuring the safety of their patients at the eye camp because they are poor and are being provided free care, which in any case is supposed to be right in this nation.
We must remember that this incident is distinct in one aspect from the Bilaspur incident, where it was later discovered that the antibiotics were contaminated with rat poison. The health minister of Chhattisgarh has officially admitted to this fact. Yet they are tied together by one common thread - in one hospital supplies were bought from a pharmaceutical company once banned and drug control authorities allowed this to happen because the patients were poor women. In the other, an origination proclaiming itself to be charitable and non-profit and doctors involved in a health cam for the poor, neglected to provide basic hygiene to ensure surgical safety to the very clan of people they claim to be 'serving'. In the end we come to this, two fragments of a larger picture -of an India which denies healthcare, and the right t a healthy life- to its poor and underprivileged - to anyone who cannot but it.
05th December, 2014