The Congress has launched a "vigorous" campaign to highlight the "bad shape" of medical care at government hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, days after scores of children died at hospitals in Gorakhpur and Farrukhabad.
Under the 'Rajiv Gandhi Swasthya Sewa' campaign, teams of leaders and party workers have started touring hospitals in the state to find out the "reality" of the medical facilities and provide as much help as possible to patients.
Congress MLC Deepak Singh, who has been leading the campaign along with MLA Aradhana Misra, told PTI that the partymen are covering three to four districts everyday meeting patients and attendants.
He claimed his party's intention was not to attack the government for political mileage but to contribute in improving the medical situation.
The teams will listen to the problems of the people, make efforts to resolve them and prepare a status report on the conditions in government hospitals. They will also take stock of pathological labs and operation theatres, Singh said.
"We have found many hospitals in remote areas where the entire medical care hinges on a single doctor on contract, whereas in hospitals or community health centres on main routes, the number of doctors posted is far above the sanctioned strength," he said.
The state of medical equipment, hygiene, medical care and the availability of medicine are very bad and patients and their attendants face immense hardships, Singh said.
He said the campaign was started under the guidance of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Raj Babbar who in turn was given instructions by party vice president Rahul Gandhi on August 20, in the wake of the Gorakhpur deaths. The campaign was intensified after 49 children died at a Farrukhabad hospital.
"It is not just Gorakhpur or Farrukhabad hospitals. There are several other district hospitals where health services are in very bad shape and our effort is also to draw government's attention to it," he said, adding that there are some other cases which have not found enough attention so far. Singh cited the example of Bahraich district where, he claimed, 40 children died in 15 days because of "medical negligence". He added that a team will visit the district soon. "The teams have been visiting the districts and handing over memorandums to the respective district magistrates and administration to draw their attention. But, if there is no improvement in the near future or the government does not respond to the situation we will not desist from taking the course of agitation," he warned.
The Congress leader said the tour programme till September 25 has been finalised.
"As part of our 'swasthya sewa' we have asked our district units to set up hoardings before all government hospitals with their phone numbers so that needy people can contact us personally and we can contribute by helping them in whichever way we can," he said.
Singh said that a state minister's statement that "August is the month of deaths in Gorakhpur", where encephalitis claims several lives every year, prompted the party to come forward and contribute in the exercise to ensure that all remain healthy.
Congress leaders were the first to visit the government-run BRD Medical College hospital in Gorakhpur soon after the death of 30 children in two days last month with central leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Rahul Gandhi rushing there. Similarly, UPCC president Raj Babbar had led a delegation to Farrukhabad and had announced that party leaders will visit all government hospitals to find out the "ground reality".