Dibrugarh, July 24: Not many decades ago, Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH) used to stand tall not just in Assam, but in the entire Eastern India. Its popularity and pocket-friendliness attracted all kinds of patients from far-flung areas. But as it happens with most good things, AMCH started losing its sheen from around the 80s decade, and has reached a pitiable state today.
Of course, the current government has shown a strong sense of commitment towards setting things right, but, having said this, things are still a far cry from expectations. First, the restoration and construction work done in AMCH under the HOPE project has ended up being a fiasco with the conditions of the infrastructure fast degenerating. That the contractors roped in under the project made quick bucks at the expense of quality has become quite apparent.
Second, the condition of the paying cabins is pathetic. Lack of maintenance coupled with a strong urge for procrastination has resulted in water leakage in many of these cabins, thus turning the walls weak from within. Also evident are cracks getting developed at many places – an open invite to trouble. Moreover, the less number of paying cabins is another cause of concern and is also something which pushes patients towards taking the services of private nursing homes. This, in turn, attracts different kinds of problems for the financially weak patients, given the expensive nature of private hospitals.
As the hospital expenses of most of such patients are out-of-pocket and not backed by any health insurance, they go for a further beating at the hands of the nursing homes. The workers of 400 tea estates located in and around Dibrugarh avail the services of AMCH. But the limited number of paying cabins has added to their already distressed life. Many head back with a heavy heart in the absence of empty beds. It is in such a backdrop that the chief convenor of the Joint Action Committee of Tea Tribes Adivasi Assam (JACOTTAA), Israel Nanda recently demanded for 500 new paying cabins at AMCH to be built by the proprietors of the 400 tea estates and OIL. Nanda also alleged that OIL in the past had taken away the livelihood of many tea garden labourers in the name of oil exploration in the gardens. Therefore, the public sector company should come forward voluntarily and help in setting up such paying cabins as an act of compensation, he said.
Along with the authorities concerned, the public is to be equally blamed for the status quo of AMCH. Turning the environs unhygienic by their distasteful habits and then expecting the government to undo it in a flash will only aggravate matters at hand. Innovative campaigns by the district administration aimed at making the people conscious and responsible in this regard might prove quite beneficial.
One cannot deny that the Sonowal government is paying much heed to the development of the historical AMCH. Be it the ultra-modern buildings that are coming up within the premises or professional security guards being deployed to boost the security, signs of progress can be seen in many areas. But then again, these initiatives are not enough if the government wishes to bring back the golden days of AMCH. A lot more needs to be done in order to turn AMCH into a health centre of national repute.