In past, Kashmir had least number of maternity hospitals but hardly would any pregnant lady die due to medical negligence
During Covid-19 pandemic doctors were greatly admired in the society. Right from the day one of the corona pandemic, they hit the newspaper headlines and were admirably called by different names like Covid-19 warriors, frontline heroes, white-warriors, frontline stalwarts and the like. They kept themselves on the forefront every time to tackle the quite risky situation bravely.
When all others preferred to stay home, they dared heroically to venture out to face death and courageously put in their bulk of efforts to cure Covid-19 positive patients while putting themselves at risk for infection. Thousand of doctors have already died due to Covid-19 from dozens of countries and specialties.
Here, we honor and solute them. Physicians, administrators, nurses, assistants, techicians, orderlies, volunteers, drivers, fresh ones including even the retired - they are all remembered today. They were bestowed flowers aerially (from the choppers above) as a mark of respect to their noble profession. However, there are yet miles to be covered by the doctor fraternity to make the job more marvelous and faithful.
The doctors are like angels for people in the hospitals. They are trusted wholeheartedly by them. A little negligence on part of them may straight prove fatalistic. Although, they don’t deliberately show any unconcern while carrying out a patient’s treatment yet from past some years we have been observing the increase in the number of maternity deaths in our government hospitals.
There are various examples of maternity deaths from Kashmir that crave for the attention of the authorities towards the healthcare of the pregnant women. From last few years the Maternity Mortality Rate (MMR) is mounting which is not a good sign for the health sector.
What have pregnant women in Kashmir witnessed not? Some pregnant women form the remote villages died on the stretchers on the way to the hospital, some died at home, and some could not make to the hospital wards at all, thus, delivered their babies on the way amid the excruciating circumstances. Some were caught up for hours in the traffic jam and some were gratuitously stalled by the security men on the road for the checking purpose.
Undoubtedly, some were nevertheless made to the hospitals yet they died due to the medical negligence on part of the staff. Facts speak for themselves. We can neither twist facts and figures nor can we conceal them. Given the fact that we have top hospitals and medical colleges here and there, we have yet to do a lot to reform the gynecology section in our hospitals.
There are painful stories to be narrated about these moms. Some got surfaced, and some whose painful stories remained untold, have laid an imprint upon our minds. Certain incidents stand out in the memory though happened long ago.
One such painful incident is from District Hospital Anantnag which remained in news for quite a long time wherein a pregnant lady was ferried on trolley by her relatives through streets of Anantnag obviously for not having been provided an ambulance by the hospital authorities.
What made me write this article is of course the recent maternity death which took place in Government District Hospital cum Medical College, Kant Bagh, Baramulla on a gloomy day of September 4, when a 20 year-old pregnant woman of Janbazpora, Baramulla touched the flat line due to lack of medical-care.
The news across Kashmir disappointed people in general and particularly to the people of Baramulla district. People and the family of the deceased alleged that the woman died due to the medical carelessness shown by the doctors in the hospital. The family members of the deceased damaged the hospital property and were not happy with the health service at the hospital. There is no smoke without fire, as they say!
Let me mention here the time when there used to be very least number of hospitals in our Valley. Those days, amid least health care facilities, hardly would any pregnant lady die due to medical negligence at any health centre.
All we had then were the Midwives (Daaiye or Warein) in the vicinities. They were the best gynecologists with no access to any equipment, etc. But alas, today, we have not only hospitals here but medical colleges too are in place! And as for the treatment, that is like ‘the more the facilities the more the deaths’.
During Covid-19 lockdown, the pregnant women in Kashmir valley had to bear the brunt. They were carried in the hospital vans for Covid-19 tests like the most wanted criminals. One can well guess the future of the land where mothers are treated like this. In this context, a quotation by someone is worth mentioning: “God could not be everywhere, that’s why He made mothers.”
All women need access to high quality care in pregnancy and during and after childbirth. Maternal health and newborn health are closely linked. It is particularly important that all births are attended by skilled professionals, as timely management and treatment can make the difference between life and death for the mother as well as for the baby.
Most maternal deaths are preventable as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known. India like other countries figures in the top list in terms of healthcare graphs thereby spending a huge amount of money annually to enhance the sector.
The main motive behind boosting the health care sector is the well-being of a poor man who has no access to the costly treatment in the private hospitals. His prime and the only preference remain government hospitals where the treatment expenses seem to be affordable for him.
But now people seem to have lost the faith on healthcare in the government hospitals due to the negligence shown by the doctors stationed there. That’s why we observe people approaching the private clinics or hospitals. Our doctors do not treat the patients carefully while performing their duties in government hospitals but on their private clinics they seem to show every possible concern to make a patient feel better.
Every state government is fervently saying that it is providing the best care to the pregnant women having availed all the facilities at Maternity Care and Childbirth Hospitals (MCCHs) but the truth is bitter and that is the Maternity Mortality Rate is rising every month.
A step taken is better than step not taken. Every state government must keep a separate building with sufficient accommodation for the pregnant women at district and tehsil level with all necessary facilities of healthcare like gynecologists, obstetrician, physician, anesthetists, and neonatologists and the like.
To improve maternal health, barriers that limit access to quality maternal health service must be identified and addressed at both health system and societal levels. Improving maternal health is one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) key priorities. WHO works to contribute to the reduction of maternal mortality by increasing research evidence, providing evidence-based clinical and programmatic guidance, setting global standards, and providing technical support to member states on developing and implementing effective policy and programmes.
Author teaches at Government Middle School, Shangergund, Dangiwacha