The youngest of four brothers, a gentle and quiet teenager when I had first met him, Sohan Lal grew up into a responsible adult working hard as a vegetable seller to look after his family. Admitted to the ICU in a private hospital in Meera Bagh, West Delhi, he underwent a series of tests including for COVID. My call to the West District listed number was received immediately and I was directed to another doctor and then finally to a Dr Neeraj Roy who is coordinating the assistance. Caught in this bureaucratic maze, Sohan Lal, struggling hard to breathe, lay unattended in the ambulance outside the building for more than an hour. In addition, with the easing of lockdown restrictions, patients with other ailments who had earlier been denied treatment have been visiting the OPD in large numbers. Since I do not have severe symptoms and do not need hospitalization, I thought for today, till alternative arrangements are made, I should continue and do whatever I can from my sick bed at home to help those in need." All over the world, especially in the richest and most advanced countries, it is the privatisation of the health sector and the private insurance-based framework which has proved to be the Achilles heel. What is required is a huge financial package to modernize our hospitals, develop their infrastructure and most importantly, provide much better facilities for doctors, nurses and staff and ensure that in a crisis like this there is no shortage of medical personnel. A member of our humble family has joined the international roll call of those who died of a common virus, to wake up the world to its infirmities. " So while a family mourns, one can only hope that the spike of cases in Delhi does not get aggravated due to dilution of government responsibility and the monitoring of protocols.
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