No free bed with ventilator: experience of a public health specialist

Thriveni Shivanna Beerenahally

Abstract

While the author was dealing with a poor elderly father struggling to shift his gravely injured young son to a government hospital due to the high cost of intensive care, her friends across the globe were discussing euthanasia in the social media. While marginalised groups of people are struggling to access care in India, friends who have moved to developed parts of the world were discussing one’s choice to live or die! The poor father, after battling to save his son and reaching out to many people for help, could not save him. Early treatment might have helped the young boy. The incident left the author thinking about how the poor are denied care simply because they cannot afford it. Others debate when to pull the plug on the patient. … How many families can afford such care in India? When nearly 71% of the people are paying out of pocket for healthcare and 16% are pushed below the poverty line every year, can we even think of universal health coverage? It just sounds like a fancy term to be used at conferences and meetings because the ground reality is completely different.

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