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Over 500 deaths since March 1, healthcare system in Malegaon crashes again

Malegaon fighting the war against Coronavirus on its own urgently needs enforcement of additional medical professionals, not security force

Sunday April 26, 2020 8:32 PM, Aleem Faizee, ummid.com

Malegaon Deaths

Malegaon: On Saturday September 9, 2006 a day after the serial bomb blasts that killed over 33 people in a span of few minutes, Shafeeque Ahmed, had returned the compensation cheque handed over to him by then UPA Chairperson Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Shafeeque had lost his son and nephew – both in their 20s, in the serial blasts triggered by the Hindutva terrorists.

“I don’t need this. I need a good hospital in the city. Had there been a good hospital with trained staff, my son, nephew and dozen others who died in the blasts would have been alive”, Shafeeque said while highlighting the total absence of healthcare facilities in the city.

Shafeeque held accountable the entire state machinery led by then Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh and Home Minister RR Patil present there for the event organised to distribute the compensation cheques to the kin of those killed in the terrorist attack.

Shafeeque later said his move to return the compensation cheque was unplanned and was the result of the insensitive and unsympathetic manner the event was organised. However, his decision gave birth to a 200-bed hospital.

Some 14 years later the healthcare system in Malegaon crashed once again on April 08, 2020 when the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) took the city into its grip.

The professional and administrative skills of the local administration needed to handle the epidemic also got exposed as they seem to be having no clues about the ways to control the mounting deaths – both because of Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) and other ailments.

As on Saturday, the local health department has recorded as many as 10 deaths related to Coronavirus. The city has also reported over 100 Coronavirus positive patients. The numbers and Corona data of the city has alarmed the state government.

However what is being ignored, overlooked and going unnoticed is the huge number of people who are dying because of ailments other than Covid-19.

“We have recorded as many as 485 deaths in the period from March 01 to April 24, 2020”, the record keeper of Bada Qabristan told ummid.com.

“There were 251 deaths in the same period in 2019”, he said. Number of deaths reported at Aishanagar Kabristan and other burial grounds are separate.

“Looking at the annual average, we receive 7-8 dead bodies per day. However, nowadays we are receiving from 10-12 dead bodies about two weeks ago when the total lockdown was announced to 20-22 dead bodies per day since last week”, he said.

Malegaon Corona Deaths

["We had received 08 dead bodies in 3 hours from 7:00 am to 10:00 am on Saturday April 25, 2020 and as many 13 deaths were reported to the largest burial ground of the city from 07:00 am to 12:30 pm on Sunday”, the Bada Kabristan office staff said. (Photo: Zohair M Safwan/ummid.com)]

The fatality rate in Malegaon is rising with every passing day. The Bada Qabristan records showed it had recorded 22 deaths on Thursday April 23, 25 deaths on Friday April 24 and a total of 32 deaths on Saturday April 25.

Total deaths recorded at Aishanagar Qabristan on April 23 and 24, 2020 are 06 and 03 respectively. “In normal days, Aishanagar Qabristan receives 2-3 deaths per day”, the staff said.

“We had received 08 dead bodies in 3 hours from 7:00 am to 10:00 am on Saturday April 25, 2020 and as many 13 deaths were reported to the largest burial ground of the city from 07:00 am to 12:30 pm on Sunday”, the Bada Kabristan office staff told ummid.com.

Who is responsible for these deaths?

Most of these deaths are of the people suffering from diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and cardiac issues. They died because they could not get emergency medical aid as all private hospitals are closed and private medical practitioners have also downed their shutters due to lockdown.

There was an order issued by the local administration to open some selected private hospitals. Local administration also asked private medical practitioners to open their clinic. But, the ground realties suggest that the order to resume operation at private hospitals was never implemented in sprit.

On the other hand over a dozen private medical practitioners have been isolated and kept at quarantine centres. Some of these corona warriors have even succumbed to the deadly virus.

“My father was a cardiac patient and was under the treatment of a doctor in Malegaon Outer. When contacted on phone, he said not to bring him to his hospital. We took him to a private hospital in Malegaon Centre area. The staff referred him to Malegaon General Hospital. From there he was sent to Jeevan Hospital only to be pronounced dead because of heart failure”, the kin of a deceased said.

Same happened with a 56-year-old female – a diabetic patient. The relatives took her to a private hospital. The staff present there referred her to another hospital. “My mother urgently needed the medical aid. However nobody was there to provide one. This was 4:00 in the morning. After wandering from one hospital to another, we finally took her to Malegaon General Hospital where the doctors declared her brought dead”, the grieving son said.

Role of local politicians

Questions are raised over the role of local MP and MLA who instead of fighting with the administration to provide relief to the people are either playing petty politics or are busy for personal gains.

Soon after the lockdown was announced, Mufti Isamil, local MLA of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, was seen in a video abusing the medical staff of Malegaon General Hospital. Consequently, an FIR was lodged against him. Apparently to evade arrest warrant he went in self-isolation citing his travel to Delhi and other neighbouring places after Coronavirus breakout.

The local MP Dr Subhash Bhamre of the BJP, possibly taking a cue from his top leadership, started communalising the Covid-19 outbreak in the city. Instead of visiting the Corona affected areas and reaching out to those who are suffering from the disease, he raised demands from the state and central government to declare the Muslim dominated Malegaon a red zone, to take action against Tablighi Jamaat and to handover the city to para-military forces.

Worst, despite the local police categorically denying that there was no attack or stone pelting on their personnel, Subhash Bhamre used this fake news to support his callous demands that only added to the pain of the people in this unfortunate time.

“As a medical professional himself, Subhash Bhamre should have sought more medical aid and trained staff from the state and central governments. Instead of this, he wants Malegaon to be further cut-off from the world, and handed over to military. Can there be anything more insane and inhuman than this from someone who is local representative in the parliament”, a local resident said.

Local administration a complete failure

The Malegaon Municipal Corporation is led by an incompetent officer who was transferred to Malegaon only to somehow spend last few years of his service left before the retirement. The roads, streets and bylanes of the city, which is now fighting the war against Coronavirus on its own, is a telling story in itself to expose his incompetence.

It is therefore not surprising why a local environment activist blaming him for the coronavirus spread in Malegaon has decided to file a lawsuit against him.

The local health department on the other hand is led by few inexperienced medicos who seem to have been issued order to just pick-up people from here and there, shift them to Quarantine Centres and add to the number of Coronavirus positive patients in the city.

Watch Video: Local administration accused of manipulation

[This is one of the videos among a number of other such videos that emerged on social media today afternoon.]

They seem to be having no care about providing to those quarantined the necessary medical treatment and the needed food to keep them healthy. At some quarantine centres there is no sufficient drinking water. Some of those quarantined are also suffering from other ailments. But there is no one to take care of them.

“We have been thrown here to die”, a local resident who has been quarantined said.

The people of Malegaon had cheered and applauded when Dr Pankaj Aashiya, an IAS officer, was shifted to Malegaon and made the in-charge of the Coronavirus emergency care centre. Local residents are however still waiting to feel his presence. Hope he is reading.

[The writer, Aleem Faizee, is Founder Editor of ummid.com and Chairman of Samara's Education and Welfare Association (SEWA) and Malegaon Industries and Manufacturers Association (MIMA). He can be contacted at aleem.faizee@gmail.com.]

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