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

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Dead Weight of Healthcare

Majhi's tragic tale of carrying his dead wife reminds us of the pathetic state of health in India.

The images of Dana Majhi, carrying the body of his deceased wife on his shoulders, with his daughter walking by his side for 10 km because the district hospital at Bhawanipatna in Odisha’s Kalahandi district, could not provide a vehicle to take him to his village 60 km away remind us of the shocking and persistent neglect of health infrastructure in 21st century India. It is precisely this kind of crisis that the poor face which made the Odisha government launch the Harishchandra Sahayata Yojana in August 2013 to provide the poor financial assistance to administer the last rites of the deceased. In February this year, the state government announced the Mahaparayana scheme to ensure the availability of a mortuary vehicle to transport the deceased. Unfortunately, the schemes have failed to deliver. The poor still rely on bicycles, motorcycles, rickshaws, wooden cots, and in this case, a shoulder, to take the deceased home.

While this incident brings attention to the pathetic state of affairs in the countryside, in another recent incident in urban, industrial Kanpur, Sunil Kumar lost his 12-year old son after waiting for medical care at the emergency unit of a government hospital, which eventually did not even provide a stretcher to carry the child to the referred children’s medical centre. The boy died on his father’s shoulders just before they could reach the hospital.

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