KAMALABARI (MAJULI), April 2 – What may turn out to be a sordid tale of the Government’s utter negligence towards the health of the over two lakh people in the Majuli subdivision of Jorhat district, thousands of gullible patients are still being clinically diagnosed through outdated X-ray machines. A section of “corrupt government doctors” and medical staff are allegedly duping the local residents by taking unfair advantage of the absence of modern-day medical infrastructure and manpower shortage in the only subdivisional civil hospital of the river island.
“About 14 to 15 patients are sent to our X-ray unit every day. Though the validity of the machine expired in 2014, we are still relying on it as no other option is available in our hospital. Patients have to wait for three to four days for their X-ray reports when the machine runs out of order,” said a doctor of the 100-bed Sri Sri Pitambar Deva Goswami Sub-Divisional Civil Hospital here.
The doctor also expressed doubts over the emission of hazardous radiation from the X-ray machine, which can adversely affect the human body during examination. He opined that the machine should not be used for diagnosis as per the Atomic Energy Commission of India’s prescribed guidelines.
Alleging the utter neglect of the only civil hospital of the river island, many conscious citizens including teachers, retired civil servants, students and medical professionals, alleged that if the Majuli hospitals are equipped with modern-day facilities and required manpower, the lucrative business of many private nursing homes and laboratories in neighbouring Jorhat and some other places of the State may suffer.
“Because of the absence of a blood bank in the river island, doctors face serious problems during emergency treatment. As the subdivisional civil hospital is equipped with a vibration-free refrigerator, it can store the required blood units of for 21 to 30 days,” said AASU publicity secretary Biren Saikia, who is a resident of Balichapori village of Majuli.
Medical professionals appointed in different hospitals also admitted to the fact. “When the requirement of blood becomes essential, we are forced to refer the patients to the hospitals in Jorhat,” said a medical expert.
Patients and their families face a tough time when they cannot avail of the Government-run ambulance and ferry service to cross the Brahmaputra river at night during any emergency, said the doctor.
Several islanders accused a section of government doctors and staff of a local hospital of taking bribes up to Rs 5,000 for operations at the time of delivery of babies. As some senior Health officials have constantly refrained from appointing gynaecologists in the Majuli hospitals for years, hundreds of pregnant women and their attendants have to rely on the treatment and operations conducted by a few experts of the Sri Sri Pitambar Deva Goswami Subdivisional Civil Hospital where the baby-care unit lacks the required clinical facilities and trained staff.
“We need four to five baby warmers. Though we were provided with six baby warmers earlier, only three of them are functioning now,” said a paediatrician of the hospital. As the civil hospital registers 50 to 60 child patients daily in the winter months and an average of 100 in the summer, the recruitment of 12 additional trained nurses and a few more paediatricians has been sought by the hospital authorities.
Demanding the required facilities for the improvement of diagnosis and treatment facilities in the civil hospital here, several conscious citizens of Garmur, Kamalabari, Samaguri and other remote areas said that the people of Majuli would not reap the benefits of the National Health Policy, 2015, if the Government fails to provide even the basic healthcare services.