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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Access to quality medical facilities - from Chennai to Talinji .............

Lop sided development is not good for the economy.  A recent study claimed that the rapid urbanisation is a myth  claiming that the infrastructure has not kept pace with the influx and people have started settling more in satellite towns.

Few decades earlier, the divide was clear – villages were predominantly agrarian, in cities there were industries – mostly manufacturing and some tertiary – service side.  The values and costs were somewhat  proportional to their utility value.  Things have changed in a big way – in cities there are more consultancies, programming, coordination and facilitators – earnings of people have multiplied manifold.  The flow of money is unabated and some are filthily reach.  There are big malls, luxury cars, costly diamonds, gold ornaments, status symbols are the order of the day. 

The infrastructure is not greatly developed – the roads are good in parts. There are big buildings but lack proper planning.  The resources including water is scarce.  There is little or no place for parking, no pavements to walk, no clean air, no greenery as people hustle for space. 

Just as malls have sprung up, there are Specialty hospitals everywhere.  Medical infrastructure has grown in a big way. In some ways, Chennai is the medical capital of India.  It is good that Clinics are in a better position to analytically find out the cause of diseases and are well equipped for surgeries.  The cost of treatment has increased very high.  This in someways is due to the marketing costs as well.    There are some renowned Private hospitals in the City.  A visit to one of these would reveal bustling crowds coming from other parts of the city and even from other countries.  You can hear all languages being spoken.  Hundreds of people from North East who hitherto had not heard of Chennai are travelling to Chennai for treatment specially ophthalmology and cardiac related ailments.  There are special help booths at Railways and auto rickshaws have great business.  There was news in papers of a man driving more than 4000 kms by car for treating his pet american boxer dog.  Some hospitals have special packages which offer stay, food and conveyance to those attending to the patients who are treated in that hospital. 

The cost is slowly going beyond the reach of common man.  If you think that the insurance policy would get you through, enquire  the spiralling costs and check whether you are indeed protected enough !

All this for the city breds – villages still are far different.  There are not many hospitals – worse the Govt. hospital would be miles away – the roads are not good enough and you don’t have the transportation facility to take those ailing immediately. 

Well the above is a standard description of what one witnesses – if you are one who have spend your life in City and have had some occasion to visit the so called villages of Tamilnadu. 

Unfortunately, you are far away from reality.  There are still places and people who have no access to schools, hospitals and basic health care.  This photo in dinamalar of date is a classic revelation.  This is a photo of an ailing boy being taken in a stop-gap arrangement called thooli – a makeshift cradle,  where bedsheet is tied to wooden poles and carried by people. The route is tortuous and one dares to imagine the plight of those carriers and the ones carried in night time and in rain. 
thooli in talinji : Dinamalar photo

This photo reportedly is of a boy in Thalinji village in the bottom valley above the banks of Tenar river in the Udumalai near Tirupur.  Udumalai is a town in the Western Ghats.  The Talinji people cultivate rice and butter beans and no other vegetation or crops.  By strange rules, they are allowed to collect minor forest products for their own use but not to sell.  The schools in such areas would not have any proper building and mostly would not have teachers, if at all there were to be students.  A Doctor is supposed to visit them weekly but could end up doing monthly.  Menfolk would go to work on the plains while women would work in manjampatti fields.    Manjampatti white bison is a type of Gaur (forest buffalo) notable for their distinctive ash grey color as opposed to the black.  Very few sightings have been recorded including a white bison in the Talinji area.  

When it comes to the infrastructure, education, medical, electricity and other facilities, you can substitute Talinji by various other villages, especially those on the hills – the situation would not change much.

Those in the city would continue to sulk of the occasional power cut and the waiting one has to do in a plush hospital.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

1 comment:

  1. absolutely true, sampathji.

    The so-called growth of the last 2 decades is a lopsided growth. In some areas the growth has been excellent - especially where technology is involved. The same Thalinji village would be having lot of mobile connections - just because it requires very little physical infrastructure.

    The National Highways are a class themselves - but when you talk of roads connecting villages, we still encourage villages to build kucha roads, using NREGA funds and proudly saying that the villagers are guaranteed employment. another distressing fact is the government itself pays less than the minimum wages prescribed by law.

    on the electricity front, TN has been a role-model to many states. there is 100% electrification in the State. But the electricity Act-2003 wantes the State to be a Regulator and not a service provider and everyone is affected by its impact.

    still we are not able to provide safe drinking water and sewerage facility to crores of our brothers & sisters , both in villages and towns. Who would have thought that we would be buying water-bottles??

    On the medical front, there is an excellent coverage of every nook and corner of the country through the concept of Primary Health Centre(PHC), atleast on paper!! The problem is the infrastructure.. no building, no equipment, safety issues, no road connectivity. this prevents the health personnel from reaching the villagers in time. I heard that the allocation for health is less than 1% of the budget (need to check the fact)..

    Unfortunately we all forget these issues when it really matters - when selecting our representatives to the State Assemblies & Parliament. If the people are happy with the 1000 note, briyani & colour TV then, I feel, we will be in the same position even in the next decade... - kannan