Doctors urge Delhi govt to provide immediate medical relief in riot-hit areas

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on March 02, 2020

‘There is a complete breakdown of healthcare systems in affected areas, treatment for victims being delayed’

Doctors and public health professionals have appealed to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to issue instructions to the Delhi government and to provideing medical relief in riot-stricken areas of North-East Delhi, where mob violence has wreaked havoc and destroyed a number of livelihoods.

When BusinessLine posed a question to Harsh Vardhan about steps the Ministry may initiate on setting up medical relief camps, he refused to comment.

Former president of All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ Resident Doctors AssociationHarjit Bhatti said that there has been a complete failure of the health system in the back drop of the violence.

Little relief

According to Bhatti, “Patients with gunshot wounds and multiple fractures had to wait for at least 12 hours before being evacuated to safe areas.”

Bhatti was transporting a bullet injury victim to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narain Hospital and he said that the ambulance was stopped four times by the police en route. “Every time, the police asked for removing the dressing bandage to ascertain that he was actually injured. At one point, his attendant was made to disembark, and he was admitted to the hospital alone,” Bhatti said.

Advocate Poonam Kaushik said that while there are no Mohalla clinics in the affected areas of Shiv Vihar, Mustafabad and Maujpur, the nearest hospital is 10 km away. “Not even a single medical relief camp has been set up in the areas by Delhi government in this scenario,” said Kaushik.

Bhatti said that patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid problems need medication, and that chemist shops had been shut in these areas. The elderly are suffering from anxiety, women needed gynaecological help and children were in urgent need of psychological help after witnessing mobs attack their homes and neighbourhoods set on fire.

Need for relief camps

Kaushik also said that milk was being sold at ₹ 150 per litre in the riot-stricken neighbourhoods and that vegetable prices are soaring too. “There should be 24x7 relief camps with provision of hot cooked food set up by the government and presently there are none,” she said.

Documents destroyed

A fact-finding report released by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a health collective, stated that those whose houses had been burnt had lost all their identity cards including bank account details, passbooks, election cards, Aadhar cards and so on. “There should be ample presence of State government officers for helping them replace heir documentation.

Many victims are unaware of compensation schemes and are scared to share any details because they fear that their documentations may be misused for ascertaining their religious identity,” said Anjali Bhardwaj, co-convenor of National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.

Former bureaucrat Harsh Mander said the State government did not set up any relief camp and that civil society and religious groups were taking victims to safe spaces. “It is the basic requirement that State government requisition a place like a school, a college or a stadium to house the riot-affected. But no help is forthcoming from the State government. It is a collective shame,” he said.

Published on March 02, 2020

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