The Hindu Editorial Analysis 3rd July 2019

The Hindu Editorial Analysis 3rd July 2019

OpEd 1 :- Why Policemen Kill Themselves ?

Background :-

  • On May 11, 2018, senior Maharashtra IPS officer Himanshu Roy committed suicide in Mumbai. He was suffering from cancer and resultant depression. 
  • Another IPS officer, Surendra Kumar Das, committed suicide in Kanpur in September 2018 due to “family issues”. 
  • Ajay Kumar of the Delhi Police, who was suffering from depression, chose to end his life in New Delhi on April 4 this year.

Police Personnel suicide all over India :-

  • Over 940 police personnel committed suicide in the five years till December 2018. This includes personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces. 
  • As many as 54 Delhi Police personnel chose to end their lives in the last four years. 
  • In Tamil Nadu, 166 policemen took their lives between 2010 and 2014, while in Maharashtra and Kerala, the figure was 161 and 61, respectively. 
  • In the last three years, 105 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force, entrusted with the onerous responsibility of looking after the internal security of the whole country, committed suicide.

What are the reasons behind these huge number of suicides ?

  • Police personnel have no fixed hours of duty. They are considered to be on duty all the time. This deprives them of the luxury of spending time with their families. 
  • They are frequently made to work for anywhere up to 16 hours a day. Families are ignored and this leads to familial conflicts. 
  • Festivals are given a go-by as they have to be on duty to ensure peace in their areas. 
  • Denial of leave is another sore point that affects the efficiency of the police and leads to frustration. 
  • Due to large vacancies in the police forces, a huge responsibility rests on the available personnel to maintain law and order.
  • The health of police personnel has taken a toll because of erratic working hours and lack of physical exercise. Many of them are known to suffer from stress-related diseases such as depression and obesity. 

What needs to be done to tackle this situation ?

  1. The government needs to take multi-pronged steps with urgency. An acute shortage of personnel in the police has to be of immediate concern. In 2014, there was a shortage of over 5.6 lakh personnel against the sanctioned strength of 22.8 lakh. An in-depth study of the requirement of police personnel over the next decade would be conducive to plan recruitment and training in a phased manner.
  2. Senior officers need to identify personnel with deviant behaviour. The Delhi Police has taken a step forward in this direction to identify personnel with psychological disorders to put them through counselling sessions. 
  3. Frequent interactions between officers and subordinates will help subordinates air their grievances freely.

OpEd 2 :- Healthcare Primary Problem 

Introduction :-

The deaths of 154 children in Bihar due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) has laid the unreliable capacity of the State’s healthcare system to handle outbreaks.

How it happened - AES has been linked to two factors : litchi consumption by starving children and a long, ongoing heat wave. 

AES :-

AES is largely preventable both before and just after the onset of the disease, and treatable with high chances of success on availability of medical intervention within 2-4 hours of symptoms. Therefore, the first signs of an outbreak must prompt strong prevention measures which is :-

  • A robust health education drive and replenishing primary health centres (PHCs) with essential supplies
  • Extensive deployment of peripheral health workers (ASHA workers) and ambulance services to facilitate rapid identification and management of suspected cases. 
  • Vacant doctor positions in PHCs must be urgently filled through deputation. 
  • Furthermore, short-term scaling-up of the Poshan Abhiyaan and the supplementary nutrition programme — which makes available hot, cooked meals for pre-school children at Anganwadis along with take home ration for mothers and distribution of glucose/ORS packets in risk households 
Nearly every one of these elements lies undermined in Bihar.

Crumbling Healthcare system in Bihar  :-
  • PHC status :- In Bihar, one PHC caters to about 1 lakh people rather than the norm of 1 PHC per 30,000 people. Three-fourths of the nearly 1,900 PHCs in Bihar have just one doctor each. Muzaffarpur has 103 PHCs (about 70 short of the ideal number) with 98 of them falling short of basic requirements outlined by the Health Management Information System. 
  • Doctors ratio over population :-
    Bihar, one of the most populous States, had a doctor-population ratio of 1:17,685 in 2018, 60% higher than the national average, and with only 2% of the total MBBS seats in the country. 
  • ASHA Personnel :-There is also a one-fifth shortage of ASHA personnel, and nearly one-third of the sub-health centres have no health workers at all. 
  • While the State reels under the highest load of malnutrition in India, a study found that around 71% and 38% of funds meant for hot, cooked meals and take home ration, respectively, under the supplementary nutrition programme, were stolen. Meals were served for just more than half the number of prescribed days, and only about half the number of beneficiaries on average actually got them.
  • Even those PHCs with adequate supplies remain underutilised. Perennial subscription to selective healthcare services by PHCs, like family planning and immunisation, have cultivated the perception that PHCs are inept as centres of general healthcare. 
Where it all went wrong ?
  • Policy documents, while emphasising on financial and managerial aspects of public health, fail to address the aberrant developmental paradigm of our health services. 
  • Decades of hospital-centric growth of health services have eroded faith in community-based healthcare. 
What are the solutions ?
  • Revamp primary health infrastructure
  • Build more functional PHCs and sub-health centers
  • Scaling-up the cadres of ASHA workers
  • Strict monitoring of nutrition programmes and addressing the maldistribution of doctors and medical colleges. 
  • We should also bolster our technical capacity to better investigate the causes of such outbreaks and operationalise a concrete long-term strategy.

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