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

Articles By Abhay Shukla

Alarm Bells for Maharashtra’s Health System

Recent surges in the deaths at public hospitals across Maharashtra prompted an investigation by the Jan Arogya Abhiyan into excess deaths at Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital Nanded, revealing a complex convergence of systemic factors and underscoring the urgent need for political will to upgrade public health services.

Novel Health Approaches Emerging from the Covid-19 Crisis

Novel public health experiments from Maharashtra in the pandemic times, involving co-production of healthcare, interventionist regulation of private hospital rates and popular initiatives to ensure social accountability of private hospitals, demonstrate significant potentials to advance people-centred health system changes.

Harvest of Uteruses

Forced to migrate to sugar belt for work, women face multiple reproductive health problems, due to the back-breaking work and poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, including menstrual hygiene. This situation along with an absence of public health facilities, allows a fertile and lucrative ground to the private healthcare facilities to provide unnecessary and extreme treatments even for minor gynaecological ailments, including the removal of their wombs. More than 4,605 hysterectomies are said to have been performed in the Beed district alone in the last three years.

Public Health Systems and Privatised Agendas

Examining how health policy has fared in India during the last five years shows the constriction of finances for major programmes like the National Health Mission and Reproductive and Child Health Programme that has led to under-resourced public systems. The Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana health insurance scheme would only end up diverting public resources towards commercial insurance companies and private hospitals, while having doubtful benefits for community health.

‘Pathological Normalcy’ and Mob Violence

The application of the “pathological normalcy” perspective is used to examine the ongoing violence by cow vigilante groups and recent lynching incidents. These are not just isolated “aberrations” arising among scattered small groups, but could be viewed as morbid manifestations of much deeper disturbances in society as a whole. There is a need to recognise the underlying dynamic of these incidents—the cultivated shift towards a pathological culture of insecurity, hatred of the marginalised, and violence—without which effective prevention may be impossible.

The Malnutrition Market

Health activists have critiqued the Maharashtra government’s proposal to provide a ready-to-use therapeutic paste to malnourished children across the state, despite strong evidence of the benefits of cheaper, more appropriate and locally produced foods. The move is one more example of how malnutrition, a condition that results from the widespread deprivation and inequities exacerbated by a market-driven economic system, is being converted into an opportunity to expand markets and make profits.