ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Need for Protocols in Public Health

The deaths in Chhattisgarh during a state-sponsored family planning camp held in November 2014 show, yet again, that the lack of checklists and an ad hoc style of functioning can and does result in disaster. This article explains the need for standardisation and protocols in key government processes and talks about the pathetic conditions in which medicines and surgical supplies are procured in public hospitals as well as the failure of state agencies to detect and prohibit sale of substandard drugs.

The deaths in Chhattisgarh in the state-sponsored family planning camps are an indicator of the lack of standardisation and protocols in key government processes in the health department. Blaming the local doctors is not only unfair, it also completely ignores the basic problem. In an age where too much bureaucracy is seen as the key issue, it may seem difficult to believe that actually it is lack of bureaucratic procedure, which can cause loss of life on this scale. Yet the Chhattisgarh incident shows that this is indeed the case.

Failure to follow protocols can have disastrous results; following traffic signals is an immediately visible example. In areas like public health, the lack of adherence to rules normally produces visible impacts in the short term. Unfortunately for all of us, as a society we seem to be tuned to function only in crisis management mode. Only a disaster makes us sit up and think. The fact remains that had these rules been set up and followed in the routine course of things, the crisis need not have occurred.

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