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

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Health: Symptoms of Decline

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Some 20 people are at risk of losing their eyesight in a district     hospital in Sangli in Maharashtra following fairly routine cataract surgery at a state government organised eye camp. The government, after much deliberation and pussyfooting, announced a princely compensation of Rs 25,000 each to the four who have already lost an eye. Another 12 are in a serious condition. This recent tragedy, not the first and not likely to be the last, and one which could have occurred in any district hospital in any state in the country, is not just a symptom of the breakdown of government medicare services; it is the painful whimper of a long-neglected, decrepit system. To regard it as anything less, as a one-time medical failure would be a gross violation of the trust that people place in government.

The camp approach to surgery – for cataract removal or laparoscopic sterilisation – was adopted as a novel method of conducting a large number of routine and similar operations. It has the great advantage of minimising infrastructure costs and facilitating time management of skills in short supply. Usually conducted in close association with district or large hospitals, they have drawn patients from surrounding villages. Of course, inspired by the success of the family planning programme, the camps are set targets to be achieved in a certain period.

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