With health facilities inaccessible to people living in rural areas surrounding the nation’s capital, patients have no choice but to travel about 15 to 25 kilometers to seek medical care in urban areas in case of emergency. In this situation, imagine what a woman in an advanced stage of pregnancy would experience in the event of labor pains at odd hours because most hospitals close their maternities in the evening.
Since government health facilities with maternity services are closed at night, where would a pregnant woman go to give birth safely?
“Poor health facilities in villages and neighboring areas of Delhi are a major cause of roadside and vehicle deliveries,” says a doctor at a government hospital in Delhi.
According to a health department source, in the past two weeks two roadside delivery incidents have come to light. One of the two incidents in the Jahangir Puri area resulted in a stillbirth.
A few days ago, a pregnant woman residing in the Ranaji enclave of Najafgarh in the Nangli Dairy region had pains during childbirth. As the gynecology department of Najafgarh hospital was closed at that time, the family decided to take her to Safdarjung hospital in an ambulance, which is about 22 kilometers from their village. However, she could not bear the pain of labor and gave birth in the ambulance with the help of the ambulance staff.
In another incident, a pregnant woman living in Jai Vihar of Najafgarh was taken to Rao Tularam Memorial Hospital (RTRM) with labor pains. She was receiving treatment at the same hospital. However, due to lack of facilities, the emergency department referred her to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital. However, on the way, the labor pain increased and she had to give birth in the ambulance herself with the help of the ambulance staff.
The Government of Delhi, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the central government are responsible for providing healthcare facilities to the people of the national capital. The villages that come under Delhi are located in and around Kapashera, Rajokari, Najafgarh, Bawana and Rohini areas where three major Delhi government hospitals are located. These are Rao Tularam Memorial Hospital (RTRM), Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra (SRHC) and Maharishi Valmiki Hospital.
Billions of rupees have been spent on the construction of the hospital, but these health facilities lack basic medical care. This is because these hospitals have been reduced over the years to mere dispensaries.
Apart from this, more than a dozen government dispensaries from Delhi government and MCD are also present in the areas but all of them lack proper sanitation facilities.
Gynecology services close early
Many wards of Delhi’s three major hospitals, namely RTRM, SRHC and Maharishi Valmiki, remain closed at night. Women who go to these hospitals to give birth are usually referred to hospitals located in the urban area due to the lack of facilities for their treatment.
According to a government hospital source, there is a shortage of senior resident doctors in hospitals. Apart from the shortage of doctors, there is a lack of facilities related to surgery, blood banks and intensive care at the hospital. In addition, the ultrasound machines are not in working order. For lack of primary equipment, the administration is forced to close services in the evening.
In case of emergency, patients from Narela and Bawana are referred to Ambedkar Hospital located in Sector-5, Rohini. The distance from Narela to Ambedkar hospital is about 23 kilometers while the distance from Bawana to the hospital is about 12 kilometers. However, the distance between Najafgarh and DDU Hospital located in Harinagar is about 25 kilometers. Covering the distance in an emergency, especially for a woman in labor, is a tough proposition.
Lack of ambulance service
He is also informed that there is a lack of proper ambulance services in many hospitals in Delhi. Therefore, patients from these hospitals are transported to urban hospitals either by private vehicles or with the help of CAT ambulances.
What are the locals saying?
Krishna Prasad, a Bawana resident, said the government had spent millions of dollars building the Maharishi Valmiki Hospital. However, neither a sufficient number of doctors are present at the hospital, nor are medicines and testing facilities available. Critical care and critical care facilities have been closed since the COVID outbreak. Rakesh Sharma, a resident of Narela, said the ultrasound department at Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra Hospital was closed. The Gyne ward is closed in the evening, forcing pregnant women to travel to other hospitals.
The doctor’s dilemma
Dr SK Kakraan, Medical Director of Maharishi Valmiki Hospital, said that due to lack of intensive care facilities at the hospital, pregnant women are referred to another hospital to avoid patient trouble in case emergency. Soon, the mother-child care unit will start in the hospital, which will solve the problem.
Dr. Amitabh Bhasin, Medical Superintendent of RTRM Hospital, said that there is a lack of senior resident doctors in the hospital due to which the Women and Maternity department is facing problems. Also, there is no intensive care at the hospital. This is also the reason why patients are referred to other hospitals in the evening.