Delhi riots 2020: How government healthcare failed

Public government misled patients; didn't record, report injuries correctly: Activists

Published: Wednesday 04 March 2020

Healthcare facilities to treat communal violence victims in Delhi were ill-equipped to deal with the emergency and were short of supplies, according to a ground report released on March 2, 2020 by non-profit Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.

Violence broke out in north east Delhi on February 23 and lasted for three days. 47 died and more than 200 were injured in the ensuing violence. The toll may increase as investigations into the violence continue.

Delhi government hospitals misled patients and were not recording and reporting injuries appropriately, according to the report titled The Role of Health Systems in Responding to Communal Violence in Delhi.

Hospitals did not provide medico-legal case numbers — an indication for law enforcement agencies to fix criminal responsibilities in different cases — according to the report.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital — which is run by the Delhi government — treated patients in a hurry and also asked them to leave. Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital — also run by the Delhi government — reportedly denied treatment to a few patients, according to the report.

Patients also alleged communal remarks were made against them by hospital authorities, according to the report.

Apart from this, Delhi government-run Mohalla clinics in affected areas were unable to treat victims because of fund crunches and dwindling supplies.

Treatment delays caused the death of several victims, said Harjit Singh Bhatti, a doctor who personally supervised treatment to riot victims. Delays occurred because ambulances carrying riot victims were intercepted by Delhi police personnel who harassed victims, according to the doctor. Ambulances from other hospitals could not help much as they were immobilised because of ensuing violence, the report said.

Patients with severe injuries also did not show up at medical camps and other healthcare facilities due to fear of harassment, according to the doctor.

Areas most affected by the rampage include Jafrabad, Seelampur and Gokalpuri.

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