Monday, June 4, 2012

Bandhs . . . Contributing to disease mortality . . .

It's a bandh here today - the Indian name for a General Strike. The best part is that nobody had any clue about it till today morning. Our vehicle was on it's way to Ranchi to pick up one of our good friends when we found about the strike. It seems that the call for the strike came yesterday night. And to add insult to the injury, it's a 2 day strike. 

It's not even a week since we had a 2 day strike - on the 30th and 31st May. The second day was a strike all over India in protest against the price rise of petrol.

For NJH, bandhs have rather been a regular feature. During the 2010-11 financial year, we had a total of 75 bandhs. 2011-12 has been better with only 54 days of shutdown. The current financial year has already seen 14 days of bandhs (including todays).

The curse of the bandh culture did not even spare us during our summer vacation. The day we were supposed to travel from Trivandrum to Othera turned out to be a bandh . . . with us losing our train tickets. 

When we were kids, bandhs used to be a welcome break. It is still not an uncommon sight to see kids playing cricket on the street during bandh days. 

However, it is not so for the country as it is calculated that we loose quite a lot on the economic side when the politicians decide to call a strike for a day, leave alone two days.

From a healthcare point of view, it is a terrible tragedy. We've had umpteen number of very sick patients who arrive too late or find it difficult to travel to a higher centre in Ranchi. 

We already have a patient, UD, a 30 year old mother of 3 who was bitten by a krait sometime early morning today. Although the family knew that she had to be brought as soon as possible, it took them almost 6 hours to find a driver who was willing to drive them to us. By she reached a good 8 hours had passed after the snake bit. 

She was in respiratory depression. Interestingly, there was no derangement of blood parameters. Usually, krait venom is both neurotoxic and hematotoxic. Now, it's almost 12 hours since the patient came. Unfortunately, the paralytic symptoms continue to persist. She is not yet on the ventilator. But, we are keeping a very close watch. . . 

I'm sure if she could have come earlier, her symptoms would not have been this bad. 

There are more stories I could tell you about patients who lost their lives because of bandhs. It could be different in cities but in areas like ours where is not much of a choice when it comes to selecting a care-provider, bandhs can turn out to contribute to disease mortality and morbidity . . . .

Please do pray that UD will make it . . .

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