My experiences at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals

Apollo HospitalThe other day I landed at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, a stone’s throw away from my residence in New Delhi.  My wife needed a test and our doctor at Max Healthcare asked us to get it done at Apollo as the equipment at Max was out of order. The moment I walked in I felt as if I was on a railway platform.  The hospital was full of patients as everybody appeared to be in a mad rush. In the OPD area, the ladies at the reception were busy, chatting amongst themselves, while patients and their caregivers waited for their attention. They wore no uniforms and for some strange reason, they were also collecting cash from the patients (apparently for the doctor’s consulting charges) and handing out receipts scribbled on small chits, which did not even have the hospital’s name on it.

Strangely, I was than directed to a cash counter to pay for the tests.   Continue reading

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The Future of Medical Education in India – The Way to Go

rural medical collegesThe Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad appears to be busy shooting the breeze by announcing vague policy changes involving setting up of Medical Colleges through private capital and in collaboration with government run district hospitals. The minister who is well known for putting his foot in the mouth, recently announced at a FICCI conference that the government is considering relaxing the norms for setting up medical colleges by the private sector. He also announced that these colleges can be affiliated with the government owned district hospitals, thus doing away with the requirement of a teaching hospital to be attached with the medical college.

The minister is seeking private equity participation in rural, backward and far-flung areas of the country. He believes that the private players can be attracted to set up medical colleges in these parts of the country by offering concessions such as access to district hospitals.

Doesn’t this sound completely hare brained?   Continue reading

The Fall of the Noble Peace Prize

Obama NobelHad Alfred Noble been alive today, he would indeed be a very sad man. The wise men who decide the winner of the peace prize named in his memory have done a great disservice to him by honouring Barack Obama. Strange as it may sound they have also done great injustice to Mr. Obama by bestowing upon him a prize that he does not truly deserve, certainly not as yet.

Like most people across the world, I have the greatest respect for the Nobles. They are the highest recognition for excellence, for real achievement untainted by parochial considerations of nationality, race, gender and politics. The Noble Peace Prize, is meant to promote peace amongst nations, communities and people and recognises efforts by individuals and organisations in that direction. Barack Obama without doubt is a great man. However, his achievements however lofty they may be today, still do not qualify him for the award of the Noble Peace Prize.

Mr. Obama is the president of the world’s most powerful nation. He is the supreme commander of the mightiest army on Earth, with a nuclear arsenal that can destroy the world several times over. He has also inherited an army, which is largely seen as an occupying force in Iraq and is in active combat in Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama has been in office less than a year. He  is yet to resolve an international conflict, stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea, ensure justice to the Palestinians, the Kurds and the Chechans. He is yet to engage with the world as a champion of peace, a harbinger of a different, more equitable world order. To be fair to him, what with the domestic economic turmoil and the healthcare reforms that he has been championing, he has had very little time to make a significant contribution to world peace. He is busy setting his own house in order, the world can wait for a while. One can hardly fault him for his priorities.

Mr. Obama has however spoken of peaceful co-existance amongst nations, about reducing and withdrawing American troops from the world’s trouble spots and of encouraging nations to resolve their differences amicably. He has talked about stopping human rights abuse and has ordered the shutting down of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility holding alleged Al Qaida terrorists without a fair trial.

I submit that Mr. Obama does not be deserve the Noble Peace Prize, for declaring his intent of promoting peace in the world. He has to do a lot more to reduce conflict in the world, promote harmony and peace amongst nations and peoples, before he can rightfully claim the prize.

Ironically, had the Noble committee waited a few years, Mr. Obama might have earned the prize on merit and he would have been saved the acute embarrassment of  being the recipient of this great honour, which he knows he does not truly deserve.

 

The Apathy of Delhi Hospitals Towards the Poor

Poor PatientsThe Delhi High Court has been after private hospitals in Delhi to honour their commitments regarding the treatment of the poor, but sadly to no avail. The hospitals are just not willing to treat poor for free, a condition that they agreed to while accepting land from the government at hugely subsidised rates. In-spite of the Delhi high court directing the hospitals time and again to fill up the beds for the poor, the hospitals are dragging their feet by hiding behind every legal loophole that they can find.

For the uninitiated here is the story. As many as 38 private hospitals in the city managed to get land at subsidised rates from the government under the condition that they will treat certain number of poor patients free of cost. The list of these hospitals today read the whose who of the hospitals in the city. However, once these hospitals commenced operations, they never honoured their part of the bargain. Thus the poor continue to be unwelcome in these hospitals, while beds reserved for them either remain empty or are filled up with full paying patients. This needless to say is criminal.   Continue reading

So much for my ‘Indian Hospital Experience’

Doctor WhoWhile trawling the net I came across a blog (http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/India/National-Capital-Territory/Delhi/blog-440604.html) about the travails of an American, getting treated for a mole/wart/skin cancer in New Delhi. The experience narrated in this post is exactly the kind of stuff we do not want. I am amazed at some of the narration and the stereotyping this does of the Indian doctors and medical system.

The blog has a semi mad sardarji (sikh) as a doctor who speaks and understands no English, laughs at his own jokes in Hindi and does not understand the difference between a mole and a pimple. The doctor has never heard of the United States and knows America, a country whose citizens are rich and ripe for fleecing. The doctor prescribes lotions and creams for treating the mole, which are not available at his own pharmacy and the patient (the author) walks out, having parted with Rs. 500 and nothing to show for it. Astoundingly, this gentleman returns to the clinic of the mad sardarji, encounters a ‘wildeyed’ patient on a wheelchair, and asks the doctor to burn off the offending mole in the emergency room next door.   Continue reading