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While speaking on Independence day, the PM announced launching of the world’s largest  Healthcare scheme  ( Ayushman Bharat Yojana) , little was mentioned about the pathetic medical facilities in hospitals in the country. Gorakhpur incidents are still fresh in peoples’ memories.

BRD Hospital and Khan

When children were dying of encephalitis, the doctor in charge of the ward tried his best to save children by securing oxygen cylinders from private hospitals to fulfill shortage of oxygen. He used his own car and money to see that suply of oxygen is not stopped. But all his efforts were viewed with suspicion. An FIR was filed against nine individuals including Dr. Kafeel Khan on  August 24, 2017. He was arrested on September 2, 2017 and was removed from his post. However, he got bail on April 24, 2018 from Allahabad High Court. ( RTI  Revealed Important things about Dr. Kafeel Khan …. By Shuchi Bhatnagar, published on Aug 11, 2018, www.rvcj.com).  An RTI activist Sanjay Sharma received reply in which the UP government accepted reality. On July4 , this year it disclosed that two oxygen cylinders were availed from unauthorized persons  as there was shortage of supply on August 11, 2017. Not only this, the BRD college also accepted that it was former nodal officer Dr. Kafeel Khan who arranged six oxygen cylinders from five nursing homes.

Sanjay Sharma said that the government did not want to share the information as the RTI was filed on August 14, 2017 but what he received was a partial reply and that too when he lodged a complaint with Information Commission. Main information was avoided citing tht the case is in court at present.

Family harassed

Dr. Khan and his family were harassed and tortured. He himself faced allegations of rape in 2015. A case was registered, but the police dismissed the allegation as false in its final report. (Gorakhpur’s Dr. Kafeel Khan : What we Know about him … Indira Basu date 15 -8 – 17, thequint.com). After the incident, he was sacked for ‘ dereliction of duty’ and ‘ carrying out private practice’ according to Hindustan Times report. The medical college accused him of ‘ fabricating stories’ in media to show himself as saviour of children. His younger brother Kashif Jameel was shot at by unidentified persons. ( 17 -6 – 2018, induanexpress.com) . Though Dr. Khan named BJP MP behind the attack, no action has been taken. His elder brother Adeel Khan  ( and two others) booked for forgery for opening bank account, expressed fears that a conspiracy is being hatched to frame him and his family. (Elder brother booked for forgery … July 3, 2018, news18.com). Kafeel said that the attack needs CBI inquiry or a committee headed by high court judge. The family also alleged ‘ political vendetta ‘ against them.

Courage and resolve

After release, Dr. Kafeel Khan continues to work with determination. His intentions were made clear when he said that he would not be afraid anymore as he had gone through worst of times. ( May 10, 2018, news18.com)  ” If my suspension from BRD is removed, I am ready to serve thebhospital again. If not, I will open my own medical center for encephalitis with the help of NGOs. My clinic will be free and will not have shortage of drugs” .

Apathy and inaction

The UP government’s apathy towards care of children is clearly visible. Very little has been done to improve healthcare. The Gorakhpur oxygen shortage case has not been probed fully. Government has tried to implicate Dr. Kafeel Khan and brush away its inaction. It has not instituted any enquiry commission. A mechanism for welfare of children in the state is still a mirage.

Mere announcement of large – scale health insurance schemes may not solve problems on the ground. People need basic facilities to get medicines and check – up without much trouble. Natal and neo – natal care must be accessible to rural areas. Child specialists and hospitals should be available to remote area where tribals and adivasis reside. Without basic infrastructure, launching grand policies with fanfare may not help vast majority of poor people.

Doctors must work for the welfare of their patients. Kafeel Khan is an example who, in spite of threats to his family and himself, has not bowed to pressure from the rulers at any stage in his life.

Sheshu Babu is a writer from India

 

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