Healthcare must not be denied for any reason
Stopping outstation patients from coming to AIIMS is callous and uncalled for
If Union minister of state Ashwini Kumar Choubey was to have his way patients from Bihar with “minor ailments” seeking treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, will be turned away. Speaking at a function recently the junior minister for health and family welfare reportedly said he asked the director of AIIMS, Delhi, “that patients who can be treated in Patna AIIMS should be referred there immediately” because “there is no need to increase the crowds here...”. Mr Choubey’s comments are insensitive on many levels — what makes it more glaring is that they’ve come from a minister at the top of the country’s health system.
The reasons why people access AIIMS, Delhi could be many — the most obvious being the superior standard of healthcare provided. The premier healthcare facility not only attracts people from neighbouring states, but also from neighbouring nations and further afield. That people from Bihar access AIIMS, Delhi, is a reflection of the poor state of health services in Bihar. The dissonance in his statement is that Mr Choubey is a Member of Parliament from Buxar, in Bihar. What Mr Choubey should be doing is to create awareness among people about the nearest healthcare facility they could access, rather than stop people from Bihar (or any other state) from accessing any other. Before that he must improve the healthcare facilities in his home state and other states, and check the dislocation of people for accessing better healthcare facilities.
It is necessary that every healthcare facility — from the primary health centre, to the secondary and tertiary hospital — in India reach an optimal standard. Till this is achieved, tertiary hospitals will have to take in the load from smaller centres. The least a people’s representative can do till then is to support patients who cross state boundaries and travel hundreds of kilometers to access quality healthcare, which the State is dutybound to provide across the country.