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Now, riot victims face coronavirus trauma

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on March 17, 2020 Published on March 17, 2020

Facing a new threat The relief camps for riot-hit families are crowded and healthcare is inadequate   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

A doctors’ report reveals shocking neglect by the medical establishment of victims who now face Covid-19 in crowded relief camps

The national preoccupation with Covid-19 does not appear to factor in the hundreds of victims of Delhi riots still living in crowded relief camps. An investigation report by a team of doctors on Tuesday revealed shockingly low levels of medical treatment the victims received after the riots, and they now face the threat of coronavirus pandemic.

Inadequate faciliities

According to Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum (PMSF), a non-profit non-affiliated organisation of doctors and scientists, this is an “extremely vulnerable” group. In sharp contrast to self-isolation and quarantine being prescribed, the riot victims are living in close proximity without testing facility. The biggest camp is in Idgah, Mustafabad, North-East Delhi, where about 500 victims have been accommodated, there is a second camp of about 50 people near Al Hind hospital while an unaccounted number of victims are bunched together in private homes.

The report compiled by PMSF team comprising Vikas Bajpai, Assistant Professor, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU; Harjit Bhatti, former President Resident Doctors’ Association, AIIMS; Sumitran, a consultant radiologist with a government hospital; and five other doctors from AIIMS, said that the response of medical establishment to Delhi riot victims was “shockingly poor and inadequate”. And now they are in danger of being exposed to Covid-19.

“These are people in poor health, who have suffered injury and trauma and are now vulnerable to a highly contagious virus,” said Syed Faizan Ahmad of the Jamia Hamdard University, who was also part of the team that has been assisting riot victims.

In their report, the doctors described Al Hind hospital, a clinic of about 50-beds run by MA Anwar emerged as the main centre that provided immediate care to the riot victims. GTB Hospital, the only tertiary care government hospital in the area, has no MRI machine and the CT scan machine, according to this team, was not working during the time of the riots.

“I ferried a patient with a two-day-old bullet injury in his stomach to the GTB Hospital on February 26. He had not come out for two days because he was too scared. He had already developed an infection and was feverish. The police stopped us four times, took out his bandages to verify whether he actually had a wound. They prevented his attendant from accompanying him,” said Bhatti.

Neglect

Vikas Bajpai said, “Another patient with bullet injury was sent to a private diagnostic facility by GTB because their CT Scan did not work. The private centre did not want to touch a case which might have medico-legal relevance. So he went to LNJP hospital where they said he did not have proper reference from GTB and was sent back. The fourth time, he managed to get a CT Scan. This is how we treat poor people who have already been traumatised by riot and grievous injury. And now they are living in crowded camps where they may be inflicted further by a virus.”

Published on March 17, 2020
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