The Government of Manipur, or more precisely, the Health Department of the State Government was honoured for being the most successful state in terms of maintaining the lowest infant mortality rate in the country about a year ago. The achievement was no mean feat by any yardstick, and indeed, it can be said that the state, though nestled in one of the most remote and geopolitically challenging corner of the country, yet there has been tremendous improvement in the field of medical advancements. The news is also a moral booster for the numerous public with limited means and accessibility who would otherwise have had to endure torturous journeys to places outside the state for seeking better treatment: or so everyone thought. The mild euphoric feeling, like all good things, soon came to an abrupt ending with the premier medical establishment in the State having had to start battling demons, mostly the ones which are its own making. The rosy picture faded, and soon enough, the public began to see the reality behind the smoke screen. And while one needs to really experience the atmosphere before making any assumptions, the journalistic fraternity indeed had the unenviable experience of going through the descriptions which until that very day was considered over reacting by the worried near and dear ones of those sick and injured. The firsthand experience of the indifferent attitude of a couple of kid doctors, presumably interns, and their apparent feeling of new found self-importance which clearly overshadowed their need for display of kindness and understanding to the infirm, the injured and the sick left a very strong feeling of pity and frustration by a number of media persons and journalists who happened to be present to enquire and keep vigil for a very good friend and acquaintance who sustained serious injuries due to an unfortunate mishap. It is another matter altogether that a major tragedy was averted due to the keen observation of the friends and family and timely shifting of the injured to a nearby private hospital whose doctors, within minutes of arrival of the patient, detected a serious internal bleeding and decided on an emergency operation during which almost two litres of blood was taken out. What is more appalling than the unethical and pathetic attitude of the doctors is the fact that the facilities and machineries utilized inside the emergency block is acutely short of the required number and quality to meet the pressing demands. There has been a spate of renovations and constructions inside the RIMS campus of late, and there must obviously be a reason for doing so. But it does escape common sense when the most important aspect of the whole exercise of saving lives, where the most critical and first aid emergency care is to be given is apparently neglected, as much as the sense of service and help is lacking in those who are supposed to be easing the pain and distress of others. The visible shift in focus is a cause for concern for the people in the state who are still hoping for affordable healthcare service without compromising on the quality. For now, the acute apathy and disregard for social needs on the part of the Government and officials are driving the sick and wounded to seek out costlier but more trustworthy and courteous options.
William Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since beginning. A avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue.