The city’s health sector fared dismally this year, with a significant rise in cases of people suffering from respiratory diseases. The same was a direct fallout of the rise in the level of pollutants in the atmosphere and a steady dip in the city’s air quality.
Although a rise in wind speed and occasional bursts of rain helped clear the thick cloud of smog and dissipate pollutants, extensive waterlogging and flooding of sectors led to a spurt in cases of dengue and malaria. According to data released by the state health department, the city recorded as many as 105 confirmed dengue cases this year. The number of malaria cases, too, rose significantly to 273 from 38 last year.
The deadly H1N1 virus, which had been on the retreat over the last two years, also made its comeback this year. According to official data, the city recorded eight new confirmed swine flu cases this year. However, the unofficial count of positive swine flu cases was much higher, at 70.
Although no swine flu cases were reported in the city in the last two years, as many as 37 were reported in 2014. However, no deaths were reported that year. The last swine flu case in the city was reported in March 2015.
Apart from the rise in the number of dengue and malaria cases this year, both government and private hospitals in the city were also in the news this year over alleged lack of infrastructure and medical negligence.
On May 26, a three-year-old boy, who fell from a two-storey under construction building, died waiting for an ambulance. He was to be shifted from the Civil Hospital to Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.
In a similar incident in April, a three-month-old boy died waiting for an ambulance. Many claimed to have been denied medical treatment owing to the lack of requisite facilities at the only government-run hospital in the city.
On May 29, a chunk of plaster from the ceiling outside the emergency room of the Civil Hospital collapsed. A hospital staff sustained minor injuries.
Last year, on April 11, a piece of concrete from the ceiling of the maternity ward had collapsed, leaving a mother and her infant injured. In 2015, as well, similar incidents were reported at the Civil Hospital.
The city’s private hospitals, too, were in the eye of a storm this year over multiple allegations of medical negligence.
On November 20, a tweet regarding a private hospital in Gurgaon created a stir. Union health minister JP Nadda responded to a family friend’s tweet expressing outrage over alleged inflated billing by the private hospital. “We will take all necessary action,” the minister responded on Twitter.
In September, a seven-year-old girl died of dengue at a private hospital in Gurgaon and the father of the deceased alleged that the hospital billed them for 660 syringes and 2,700 gloves during the 15-day hospital stay.
In another alleged case of medical negligence, an FIR under section 304 (2) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code, was filed against one of the doctors of Fortis Hospital on December 9. The doctor was involved in the treatment of seven-year-old Adya Singh, who succumbed to dengue. On December 15, the police added Section 188 of the IPC in the case, as the hospital failed to report dengue case to the government authorities.
In November, parents of a 12-year-old boy, lodged at a private hospital, accused the doctors of medical negligence and created a ruckus, demanding action. However, hospital authorities claimed that the boy died after suffering multiple organ failure. Prateek (11) was allegedly suffering from diarrhoea when he was brought to Park Hospital located at South City-2 on November 21. He died the day after.
In December, a complaint was filed against Medanta-The Medicity in Sector 38 alleging medical negligence that led to the death of a seven-year-old boy suffering from dengue on November 22.
The deceased boy, Shaurya, was admitted to Medanta on October 29 and was under treatment there till November 20. He was referred to the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital as there was no significant improvement in his condition. His father, Bhupender Singh Parmar, filed a complaint at the Sadar police station.
These cases brought a bad name to public and private health care services in the city. Residents have called for an urgent upgrade of the city’s health care facilities.
“The condition of the government hospital leaves a lot to be desired. Many people turn to the Civil Hospital for treatment, as private health care is beyond their means. Every citizen has a right to avail of basic health care. The quality of health care in the city’s needs urgent improvement,” said Souniya Khurana, a resident of Sector 56, who had helped domestic help Shahnara Khatun, 23, who was injured after being hit by a bus of a private educational institute on December 8 last year.
Meanwhile, the health department assured that they are taking all required measures to plug the loopholes in the city’s health care scene.
“We are trying to improve service at the government hospital.With regard to allegations of medical negligence at various private hospitals, we are investigating the cases and will take appropriate action,” BK Rajora, chief medical officer, Civil Hospital, said.
On the rise in dengue and malaria cases this year, he said that the health department is in the process of identifying more mosquito breeding grounds in the city and will ensure that vector-borne diseases are kept at bay next year.