LADI SHEROWALIA V/S AN ULTRASOUND MACHINE
On Shahkot Result Eve, A Reporter Goes to Read Politics On The Ground
- S Pal
On Shahkot Result Eve, A Reporter Goes to Read Politics On The Ground



ON A DAY when Punjabis interested in politics of the state rushed to their television sets to tune into the Shahkot by-election counting and kept pace with the round-by-round leads of Hardev Singh Ladi Sherowalia, it took a senior journalist in Bathinda to remind us what politics is all about.

Unfortunately, the number of people who would see his report as a deeply political piece of writing is too small. A rookie with a tv channel microphone in hand breaking the news about "Shahkot Jimni Chaun vich Ladi Sherowalia di bhaari jitt" sounds more political than Prabhjit Singh of the Hindustan Times showing us the mirror with the headline: "No govt ultrasound centre within 50km of Bathinda civil hospital."

Only one of the two is talking politics. Politics that includes the entity called people, politics that has to do with the health of the people, their well being, their right to a life with dignity and access to basic necessities.

As per the despatch from this senior journalist, known for his bold, brave investigating reporting, 200 patients pour in from Mansa, Muktsar and Faridkot districts every day into the Bathinda hospital, but only 40 ultrasounds are done.

Even the Mansa district level hospital has no ultrasound facility. 
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Every single claim of Captain Amarinder Singh, every single counter claim of Sukhbir Singh Badal is blown to the smithereens by this picture clicked by Sanjeev Kumar of the Hindustan Times, that accompanied Prabhjit Singh's report.
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Do people in Mansa not need an ultrasound facility? How do the Mansa doctors, administrators, police officers, Deputy Commissioner, SSP, advocates, judges, professors go to sleep knowing that there are sick people out there and there is no ultrasound machine in the top government hospital in the district?

Someone needed to ask the one question that was most political: why have our voters and our politicians not asked that one question? 

Every single claim of achievement of the Congress government in Punjab under the leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh, and every single counter claim of Sukhbir Singh Badal about his government's ten years in power is blown to smithereens by this picture clicked by Sanjeev Kumar of the Hindustan Times, that accompanied Prabhjit Singh's report.

THE REAL POLITICAL ISSUE - The Notice at the Bhagta Bhai Ka community health centre. Photograph by Mr. Sanjeev Kumar of The Hindustan Times, being published here courtesy the newspaper. 

  
"Iss hospital vich 2 vaje shaam ton baad koyee doctor duty te nahi hovega."

"No doctor will be on duty after 2 pm in this hospital."

There is an ultrasound machine at the Goniana civil hospital but it has not been functional. You know since when? "Two years!" As per Dr R Bhushan, the doctor on duty, there is no radiologist. A class 6 child understands there are two things required for an ultrasound: an ultrasound machine and a radiologist.

The fact is that there is no radiologist in the entire Bathinda district. As the HT report brought out, the Civil Surgeon has "hired two private radiologists to run the ultrasound machine for 6-8 hours."

Prabhjit Singh and Sanjeev Kumar visited the Bhagta Bhai Ka Community Health Centre, 40km from Bathinda. This was no ordinary Community Health Centre. It is one of the 100 enlisted ‘special and state-of-the-art CHCs across Punjab’.

It is very special, of course. You know why? Because it does not have a single specialist!
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The easiest route is to start blaming the concerned minister or the district administration or the local civil surgeon or the hospital superintendant, but that will be ill informed activism.
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If you keep all four posts of specialists in surgery, gynaecology, medicine and paediatrics vacant, it sure becomes a very special Community Health Centre. To add icing to the cake, the government has not even posted a Senior Medical Officer (SMO) there.

Hats off to the young doctor there who was working like a person possessed, with 50 patients waiting for their turn and who told the reporter that she has no time to talk. Men and women in white coats in government hospitals and the paramedical staff there are known for their dedication in the face of scarce resources.

The easiest route is to start blaming the concerned minister or the district administration or the local civil surgeon or the hospital superintendant, but that will be ill informed activism.

Punjab needs to engage with real politics in which public funding in health and education needs to become a political issue front and centre of politics. The issue of absenteeism of doctors and teachers will also then be dealt with. Where are the politicians and bureaucrats who inspire and lead with an example?

We did not hear the political issue of the 30-bed Bajakhana Community Health Centre in Faridkot, catering to over 95 villages, but managing without a surgeon, a gynaecologist, a specialist in medicine and a paediatrics doctor? It has all four posts, but all are vacant for a year now. 
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If we understand politics that only means seats in the Assembly or Parliament and personal egos, then the top issue will be the result of the Shahkot Assembly by-election or the defeat of the BJP in Kairana.
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Read this remarkable picture painted by Prabhjit Singh in the Hindustan Times' edition of May 31: "In Mansa, Bathinda, Fazilka and Muktsar, the four southern districts of the state, 21 of 41 posts of gynaecologists are vacant. There are 29 vacancies (of 41 posts) in medicine; 28 (38) in paediatrics, five (seven) in radiology."

If this is not a political issue, then we are condemned to look for our future in the victory of a Ladi Sherowalia that will improve the prospects of a Rana Gurjit Singh, not the chances of an ultrasound machine at the Goniana civil hospital working.

Punjab Health Minister Brahm Mohindra can claim some success in having convinced his government to introduce full pay scale for MBBS medical officers, which will make it easier to rope in talent in government hospitals. He showed muscle by refusing to sign on the dotted line when it came to the Ayushman Bharat scheme. That scheme hid in its subtext certain clauses that would have burdened the state government and let the Centre off the hook when it came to sparing money for people's health. It is time to do more. It is time for we, the people, to say that politics is more than votes, more than elections, more than a byepoll, more than a Ladi Sherowalia.

Just like economy is too important to be left to the economists, health is too crucial to be left to health administrators. Finally, it is the politics that decides what gets priority. 

If we understand that politics that only means seats in the Assembly or Parliament and personal egos, then the top issue will be the result of the Shahkot Assembly by-election or the defeat of the BJP in Kairana.

If we understand politics as an instrument to ensure people, all people, have better access to health and education and have a right to a dignified life, then the top issue will be a notice hanging in a hospital that tells the sick and the dying that there will be no doctor in this hospital after 2 pm.

Hats off to journalists like Prabhjit Singh and Sanjeev Kumar who decided to go and read politics in the government health facilities when most thought landing up in Shahkot will be a better idea. 
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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Comment by: sarjit singh gill

A lady is grinding floor and dogs are licking it--AHNI PIHE KUTE CHATAN

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