More than 359 babies have died in Srinagar's GB Pant hospital in five months. 35 newborns died in the last fortnight alone. This is the city’s only paediatric facility. Mind you we ain’t backward. We have two world-class golf courses in Srinagar. The grass at Royal Springs is of different shades with a famous par-3 fifth, professional 18 hall, par 72 track, besides comfort stations and massage parlours, not to speak of the ultra modern underground sprinkler irrigation. There are only three ventilator machines for more than 1700 patients in the nearby GB Pant. Must we cry or clap.
Newspaper reports quote over-worked doctors saying that asphyxiation has been the cause in almost 98 percent of the deaths reported in the hospital. It is no rocket science. The facility needs more ventilators and staff. Instead it will get red-tape and bureaucracy. It will almost immediately get a thick minister visiting the wards, expressing his sympathies with the bereaved families and praying for eternal peace for the departed souls. Departed souls: What a text-book mortuary tribute!
What about the infants who died? Isn’t it grossly unfair that babies must die in a tourist brochure state, where indigenous civil servants and government ministers outdo each other to be propaganda babies? Why should Kashmir’s lone paediatric hospital be allocated an annual budget of Rs 13 crore only? Some of the homes of senior bureaucrats and ministers cost more than that. Why, even chopper sorties to ferry the CM around (on non-holidaymaking trips) cost much more.
Indeed blame-hammers aren’t helpful when babies are dying in our hospitals for the lack of better infrastructure. But questions haunt: Just why do we need more tulips in the city gardens when we have no ventilators in Srinagar hospitals? Why is there no outrage? Why should the union health minister, a son of soil, not apologize? Why should heads not roll?
Why are we forced to cheer a million tourists when we should be mourning our inefficiency?