Reading news item about ms. Mallika Amar Shaikh's efforts for Financial help for her husband Fiery Dalit writer/poet Namdeo Dhasal brought back memories of 70's when Dalit Panther movement took off and had some relevance. But to my mind it brought memories of Mallika's autobiography, which I had read then. Mallika who is daughter of Leftist Shahir Amar Shaikh had vividly described her experience during her first pregnancy and particularly-her delivery in B.M.C. run Nair Hospital. She wrote about behavior of staff in labor room, where she was made to lie on dirty delivery table and at the height of unbearable labor pains, she was slapped, pinched on thighs and buttocks and taunted with most sexually explicit remarks.
Having worked in labor wards of Municipal hospitals, I know that each and every word was true-no exaggeration. Patients are left on Delivery table with no one around them, If she shouts in pain ,she is abused, shouted at and even slapped. Sometimes hours pass before resident doctor in charge ( busy with other emergencies) realizes that particular patient has not delivered and then she is re examined and future action carried out. Usually there is no feedback from the Nursing staff to Doctors regarding progress of a patient. What surprises me the most. Nursing staff,Ward boys and Ayahs come from the same 'class' as patients. Many of them stay in the same locality.Even then why there should be such an animosity and poor behavior and treatment with no compassion? In case of Medical needs they patronize the same BMC/Govt. hospitals. Doctors who usually belong to higher(Richer) class have better attitude and are more compassionate. People belonging to same class should treat them better, instead reverse is true. Is it because of the frustration of their lives and daily grind they face, force them to take it out on people who cant hit back?
I hope situation must have changed now but I doubt it. BMC/Govt. has no money, desire or expertise to run Maternity Homes or Hospitals. They would gladly hand them over to Pvt. parties in the garb of Charitable trusts, if they can navigate the deal through political minefield of BMC. If this cant be done than they are allowed to get dilapidated by willful neglect and then discontinued as in the case of Cooper Hospital or many Maternity homes,to be rebuilt and run by Pvt. Charitable trusts. Besides only those who cant afford services of Pvt. Nursing Homes or Hospital patronize BMC hospitals. These hospitals could provide one with best of treatment at almost no cost,provided Paramedical staff can give service with compassion and authorities have will and desire to infuse much needed funds and resources.---PK