Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu… there have been reports from all over the country of patients being refused treatment during the lockdown. This has been reported to be the case especially with private hospitals. Maharashtra and Delhi governments have now issued orders warning that action will be taken against hospitals or clinics if they refuse (decline) treatment to patients. The Union health ministry has also said that all health facilities should remain functional.
When Prime Minister Modi had announced the lockdown he had requested citizens to postpone elective surgeries. That was of course well and good. But for everyone in need of institutional deliveries or dialysis or chemotherapy, the hospital shutting off their access can prove fatal (deadly). Quite apart from chronic diseases like HIV and even other infectious diseases like TB, people need hospitals for unforeseen emergencies.
A key rationale for lockdowns has been to protect the health infrastructure from being overwhelmed. And in the fight against Covid-19 hospitals must of course be fully equipped (provide) with tests, PPE etc. But they cannot retreat from their core function. If one part of India’ stretched health infrastructure simply abandons (leave) post, it makes the work for the remaining health warriors even tougher.