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Endless wait for trauma care

Ranchi, Sept. 14: Pappu Kumar, a budding entrepreneur, would have lived to ink his next ambitious deal, but for want of emergency medical aid. The 25-year-old bled 60km to death from Tamar to Ranchi following an accident on NH-33 on Sunday while the state’s six proposed trauma centres continue to gasp in red tape tangle.

In its 2003-04 budget, the state had first proposed the facilities along important highways, including the arterial NH-33 that links the capital to steel city Jamshedpur. While the Centre agreed to fund one in Hazaribagh and another in Dhanbad, the others — three of which were proposed in Ranchi (Bundu), Garhwa and Sahebganj — remained the onus of the then Arjun Munda government.

A sum of Rs 4.8 crore was allocated for each of the Dhanbad and Hazaribagh trauma centres. The 24x7 facilities were to include a blood bank, operating theatres and equipment for emergency treatment.

Deputy commissioners of the two districts were asked to scout for land (two acres each) for the facilities.

Hazaribagh received Rs 1 crore in the 2006-07 fiscal, but failed to deliver as a mandatory MoU between the state health department and Union ministry was never signed.

A laggard Dhanbad, on the other hand, could not finalise a site and so the Centre froze promised funds.

In 2008-09, the then Madhu Koda government once again proposed trauma centres — this time 15 more — and allocated Rs 5.15 crore. Five facilities were planned in Garhwa, home constituency of then health minister Bhanu Pratap Sahi, Sahebganj and Bundu.

Then health secretary Shivendu even proposed to run the trauma centres under a public-private partnership model, but things did not begin in earnest.

Ganesh Reddy, an NGO activist caught in a roadblock following the September 12 accident, said: “The four critically injured persons remained unattended for 45 minutes before a police ambulance reached the spot. The ambulance had no doctor or first-aid.”

While the car Kumar was travelling in collided with an LPG truck near Deori Temple in Tamar, the injured had to be driven 60km for first-aid. Kumar died on the way.

Reddy, also an eyewitness, said there was nothing called a rescue operation, leave alone trauma care. “Dead or alive, they were loaded one on another in what was an excuse for an ambulance,” he said.

“What else could we do?” countered Tamar sub-inspector Sushil Kumar. “The ambulance was made available to us by the Union ministry of surface transport and highways a couple of years ago. How do we get a doctor or first-aid? We can only manage fuel costs from funds made available by the state home department.”

The health centre at Tamar, which is supposed to run round the clock allegedly had no doctors that night though state health secretary D.K. Tiwary claimed otherwise.

On the proposed trauma centres, he said: “Files are pending with other departments concerned such as finance.”

Will the Munda government, which sailed through a confidence motion in the Assembly today, bring succour?

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