Health | Guwahatians losing faith in public healthcare
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Health | Guwahatians losing faith in public healthcare

Saumya Mishra | September 01, 2018 18:57 hrs

GUWAHATI: At least 84% Guwahati residents do not have faith in government hospitals and prefer going to private hospitals or clinics for treatment, as per the results of a recent survey called ‘Let’s Talk Guwahati’ conducted by G Plus. Around 10,000 people participated in the month-long survey undertaken at different localities of the city through online as well as offline mediums. 
At a time when the state government is laying a lot of emphasis on improving the overall medical facilities and infrastructure in Assam, it still has a long way to go to gain the trust of a majority of the population in public healthcare.  
According to the results of the survey, 73.3% respondents said that they preferred to get themselves or their family members treated at private hospitals. Further, 11% of the population said they usually favour going out of the state for medical treatment.

On the other hand, a mere 15.7% of the participants said that they preferred to go to government hospitals.

The government hospitals in the city remain overburdened with an ever increasing number of patients going to them for treatment not only from Kamrup (Metro) but from all over the state. 

To add to this, staff shortage and lack of adequate infrastructure in several government-run hospitals prove to be major impediments in providing quality care to patients. These factors often lead people to opt for moving out of the state for treatment if they can afford it, say experts.   

“I recently went to a government hospital for an eye-related problem but was left disappointed with the overall conditions. The hygiene standards are not up to the mark in a majority of the government hospitals and the doctors and nurses often display a laidback attitude when treating patients,” Meenu Gohain, a resident of Bhangagarh told G Plus.   
Further, another resident informed that if the ailment is of a serious nature and needs immediate attention, then he prefers going to private hospitals. 
“Emergency services in government hospitals need improvement as they often do not have the resources to handle emergency cases,” he said.

Medical negligence cases, past experiences to blame

Experts working in the field blame past experiences of the patients which result in them refraining from approaching government hospitals. 

“Many people have told us that they had to go through harrowing times while seeking treatment at government hospitals. This ranged from the behaviour of the nurses and the doctors to the quality of treatment provided there,” said Banashree, a member of Helpline Healthcare Society - a Guwahati-based NGO working in the healthcare sector for the past 15 years.  
Additionally, increasing number of medical negligence cases being registered in the city against government as well as private hospital authorities are forcing people to seek treatment outside the state for critical ailments.
In a recent case, a pregnant woman died a few hours after she was admitted to Goenka Nursing Home for delivery, allegedly due to high dose of anaesthesia. 
Further, the Kamrup (Metro) District Consumer Disputes Redressal forum (DCDRF) officials informed G Plus that they receive several cases related to medical negligence in a month. 
The cases range from wrong diagnosis of diseases to negligence in medical services. Officials of the DCDRF informed that such cases of medical negligence have become very frequent with at least three to four cases being filed with the consumer forum every month.  
In another case, a woman filed a case against a city-based private hospital after her father passed away after being admitted for a week in the hospital. Member of DCDRF, Archana Deka, informed that the complainant’s father was suffering from jaundice and had stopped responding to treatment before he passed away.
She alleged improper diagnosis and negligence on the part of hospital authorities and filed a case with the DCDRF. Deka said that hearing of the case is still on and a judgment yet to be delivered.  
On the other hand, the state government is taking measures to improve the overall health scenario of Assam.    
These include setting up of AIIMS in the state for which the long-pending construction work is finally set to begin from October. 

Authorities informed that the primary level works are in process and the survey has already been completed; the construction work will begin in full swing from October.

Further, the government is also looking to develop the infrastructure of the existing hospitals including Gauhati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH), Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital (MMCH) among others.

Authorities informed that they are planning to augment the capacity of the existing hospitals as their workload is increasing day by day.

“We are looking to improve the infrastructure, equipment and manpower for the existing hospitals,” informed director of medical education, Anup Kumar Barman.

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