Corporators of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) spent more time deliberating or introducing proposals on changing names of hospitals, maternity homes and dispensaries since 2012 than on discussing issues concerning biomedical waste, hypertension, diabetes, diarrhoea, and vaccination in the civic body’s health and standing committee meetings, an NGO report says.
Between 2012 and 2017, information gathered by NGO Praja through the Right to Information (RTI) law showed there were 90 questions raised by corporators in both the health and standing committee meetings seeking change in names of hospitals. In contrast, 15 queries were raised on diarrhoea, cholera, hypertension and diabetes — all of these are responsible for high mortality in Mumbai.
The number of health issues raised by corporators has also decreased over the years —from 417 queries in 2014-15 to 412 in 2015-16 and 365 in 2016-17. “Corporators have shown more concern in changing names of hospitals, cemeteries and dispensaries than in raising questions on tuberculosis,” said project director Milind Mhaske from Praja. According to the NGO report, an estimated 18 people succumb to tuberculosis every day in Mumbai.
Between 2012 and March 31, 2017, 50 questions have been raised by corporators regarding tuberculosis. During the same period, the corporators focused more on changing names of Kasturba Hospital in Borivali, Kandivali Shatabdi Hospital and Jogeshwari Trauma Hospital. Five questions were raised regarding renaming Jogeshwari Trauma Hospital. Corporators first suggested the name Hinduhridaysamrat Shivsena Pramukh Manviya Shri Balasaheb Thackeray Trauma Hospital and later, other corporators came asking for removal of the word ‘Shivsena Pramukh’ over a series of queries.
Eight queries each were raised regarding renaming Kandivali Shatabdi Hospital and Kasturba Hospital. Corporators also entered into an argument over Kasturba hospital, Borivali, with a few suggesting that the hospital be named Ramabai Ambedkar Hospital and others asking to name it Krantijyoti Savitri Phule Hospital.
Other queries had been raised regarding changing names of maternity homes, dispensaries, and naming Bhandup civic hospital after former president A P J Abdul Kalam. Attendance of corporators in health committee meetings witnessed a drop from 68 per cent in 2013-13 to 60 per cent in 2016-17.
“There is hardly any proposal on preventive medicines. Health is a sensitive issue but it does not get much importance. Most proposals are on doctors’ appointments and promotion in health committee meetings,” Dr Saeeda Khan, a corporator from Kurla, said. An analysis of questions asked by corporators showed that maximum queries are on doctors’ appointments and vacancies (308), followed by queries on infrastructure of hospitals and on malaria and dengue in the past five years.
“There are very few doctor corporators in the BMC. Hence, awareness and understanding about health is low. We need more involvement of corporators with regards to diseases and health infrastructure,”corporator Dr Ram Barot said. THE BMC has issued a notice to NGO Praja on its reports this year on malnutrition and the state of health in Mumbai, demanding a public clarification for allegedly “distorting facts through figures obtained by RTI”. It claimed that the NGO obtained figures from the BMC but interpreted it in a way that maligns the civic body.
In May, the NGO released a report of BMC schools and high malnutrition rate among students. This week, the organisation came out with a report on tuberculosis, dengue, cholera and other diseases. According to TB control in-charge Dr Daksha Shah, the data collation has been through unscientific methods.
“We have been asking civic officials to sit and discuss the data with us. There has been disparity in official figures that BMC provides and figures we got through various RTIs in government hospitals,” said Milind Mhaske, project director at Praja. The civic body in its notice said it will take legal action against the organisation if a public clarification is not offered.