Medical Science and Our Health

Mankind was helpless before nature and was at the mercy of diseases at the dawn of civilisation. Knowledge of science was developed to overcome man’s helplessness and through his pilgrimage to science, mankind found out one of the greatest and perhaps the noblest branch of science, namely medial science. Before its emergence the ailing humanity had no other way but to count the ominous footsteps of death. But those great men of the past  who could feel the pain of ailing humanity groaning under the labyrinth of the dark ages, with their immense love for human civilisation, had opened up the golden gate of medical science and helped liberate mankind from the clutches of dreadful diseases. But one cannot forget that the struggle of the pioneers of the medical science was not easy going. Traversing the rough road of struggle they had to face many prejudices, superstitions and  had to withstand stiff opposition of the then society and even many of them were guillotined, hanged and burnt alive. Mankind paid their highest tribute to those modern Prometheus, did salute them as man divine and worshipped  them as second-god.

Medical science has reached its present zenith in the twenty-first century when it can bring most diseases under control. Scientists known and unknown have been making this remarkable contribution. But the fruits of science are not reaching the toiling people. The common people in under developed and also developed countries can not avail of the services. The social system is keeping science in chains.

We cannot but express our deep concern and pain over the dismal picture in India. Even after over 58 years of independence, India, claiming to be the biggest democratic country, is a land of diseased millions today. Not to speak of fatal diseases, here people even have to suffer mostly from ordinary preventable ailments like diarrhoea, dysentery, TB, malaria, encephalitis, kala azar, dengue and arsenicosis and others, which also lead to considerable loss of working hours. Parents sitting for nights together at the bedside of their sick children, hardly capable of providing a single drop of medicine or a morsel of food, have to see their loved ones gradually sink into death. The cry of the starving people rends the air. Malnutrition has crippled our nation. Maternal Mortality Rate in our country, 4.08 / 1000 live births (the report being a fragmentary one) ,excepting a very few African countries is the highest. Infant Mortality Rate (67 per 1000 live birth), likewise, is in the same shocking situation.

It sounds queer indeed when one hears that such a country is  member of the WHO and the UNICEF. Strange still is the thriving of highly equipped private hospitals and nursing homes with all modern sophisticated gadgets, while people in rags die in streets in cities, towns and villages like anything, unattended and uncared for. One cannot but be shocked to see that people still show endless endurance with the hope of being cured of disease by ‘mantras’ as they did in primitive times. No hospital, no health clinic or nothing of the sort is to be found within miles. Even safe drinking water for the village people is still a dream after six decades of independence. The rural areas cannot hope to have even one doctor for every 20,000 population. It is therefore not at all difficult to understand how many people of our country are beyond the scope of the so-called existing health system which itself is our apology for the same. Again for those who have the facility for the health centre and hospitals, what do we find? There prevails a reign of ‘No’ – no supply of life saving drugs, no supply of oxygen for the acute emergency, no bed vacant for the dying, no scope of urgent investigations, and so on. There is always dearth of doctors, sisters and other staff. Number of sanctioned posts is far short of the requirement as per population, and yet kept largely vacant. Thus the doctors and nurses are perplexed with the rush of the patients. There is misunderstanding everywhere in the hospitals. As such,unwanted and unhappy incidents are the order of the day.

We have but to mention that Health, like Education, has been in the Directive Principles of our Constitution, as a pious wish of the governments, and never as a fundamental right.