Eleven persons have been blinded after undergoing cataract surgery in a private hospital in Indore. The suspected cause is a bacterial infection probably due to poor maintenance of the operating theatre. This is a huge failure for those who trusted the hospital for eye surgery. The expertise of the doctors may not be in question as the hospital has been conducting on an average about 10 cataract surgeries a day. Carelessness in the upkeep of the surgical theatres, which must provide the highest possible sanitation and be free of infection causing bacteria and other hazards, has cost patients their most precious gift of eyesight. While the hospital has been shut down and expertise sought from other cities for corrective surgeries on the patients, the sheer scale of such tragedies, which are likely to take place more frequently at eye care rural camps, is horrifying to contemplate.
As India’s population ages, the demand for surgical intervention for the elderly is likely to go up. With a doctor to patient ratio of 1:1456 people, India lies way below the WHO recommended ratio of 1:1000. As the nation grapples with the need to educate and train many more young Indians in the modern scientific medical profession, a provision in the new National Medical Commission Bill, which might make way for 1.5 lakh Community Health Providers (CHPs) to practice modern medicine at mid-level, is shocking. Doctors are up in arms against the proposal though the CHPs will be allowed to practice only in primary and preventive health care. Such care providers may help with medical care in a rural setting for the poor who usually land up in the clutches of quacks. But, given what happens even in city hospitals, those requiring surgeries may have to go to hospitals with a prayer on their lips.