December 14, 2012

How patents are anti-poor and are harming essentials like healthcare worldwide

Come Diwali, the greatest Indian celebration, and a considerable number of people all over the country get burns and many die of burn-related injuries. One doesn’t realise the gravity of the situation till tragedy strikes at one’s doorstep. This Diwali, a small diya kept near a staircase, in twenty seconds straight, had my aunt (my brother-in-law and fellow TSI columnist Prashanto Bannerjee’s mother) in its deadly wrap. She, being a neighbour since my childhood, is perhaps closer to me than are any of my real aunts. Despite her saree being made of cotton, and despite my brother-in-law noticing the burning saree instantly and putting off the flames with buckets of water within twenty seconds, she got 65% burns – and at 72 years of age, that is dangerous... very dangerous! When we reached Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi – where we finally admitted her – the doctor told us that if she had been of Prashanto’s age, 36, he would have given her only a 20% chance of survival with the 3rd degree burns that she had. But then, there’s a small background story to all this. Prashanto’s mother was actually taken initially to Max Super Speciality Hospital. To our surprise, we were told by Max doctors to get her admitted somewhere else since they didn’t treat burn injuries… The quick research we did after our visit to Max gave us a shocking statistic. In Delhi, the capital of India, there are only two hospitals capable of treating burn injuries. Other hospitals in fact don’t even admit burn victims! And being Diwali, Safdarjung Hospital, the only hospital other than Apollo for burn victims, was expected to be very crowded. If Delhi has only two, then you can imagine how many hospitals does the average Indian city have that handle burn injuries – none!

Anyway, once she was admitted to the ICU at Apollo and we got talking to the doctor, and wondered how in such a big city such few beds were available for burn victims, his answer shocked us further. He said that a burn injury is a poor man’s injury and ergo didn’t have many hospitals as takers. Before this incident, it had never struck me that this was the case. It should have been quite obvious actually: it is the poor woman – and not really the man – who gets burnt when her saree catches fire from the kitchen stove kept on the floor. And when such poor women get burnt, it matters less whether they survive or not. Therefore, no hospital has been interested in investing in a burn injury center! What was sadder was that when I researched on the net and read about the tremendous advancement of medicines for burn injuries (that have reduced chances of mortality to negligible even in severe burn cases), I realized that we still lived in a country that, despite the spectacular international medical advancements, continues to have the highest number of people dying of completely curable burns.
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19 comments:

Atanu said...

I didn't know that we don't have enough hospitals available for burnt patients.

Vijay Singh RY said...

Last week one of my colleagues wife burnt in an accident and that time we realize,we really need good hospitals for treating burnt patients.

Raj said...

Thank your sir for giving us such an useful information.

Alok kumar said...

No wonder, a treatment center for a poor man has barely any takers.

pankaj said...

we cut the patent protection period drastically short.

TATAN said...

Absolutely right,long-term patents keep essential medicines extremely expensive and away from the reach of the poor.

Dipti Nayak said...

Steam engine is the perfect example which shows after patent rights,innovation decreases.

Apoorv said...

I wonder,no hospital has been interested in investing in a burn injury center!

suman kumari said...

Really,Max Hospital didn't treat burnt injuries..???

Sudhir Kumar said...

We doesn’t realise the gravity of the situation till tragedy strikes at our doorstep.

Rajesh Sharma said...

Long term patent slow down innovation.

Nutan Xalxo said...

Prashanto’s mother fighting a brave battle in hospital and i hope she will come by winning this battle.

Sangeeta Raipuria said...

Strange,despite the spectacular international medical advancements, continues to have the highest number of people dying of completely curable burns.



Ravi Rawat said...

Highest people in our country dies in burnt related injuries,something should be done for them,to save their life.

swati gogia said...

I completely agree with you sir,Every technology and formula kept patented for 30 years consequently means there would be much slower progress on further extensions to that technology or formula due to the patent-gifted monopoly.





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pankaj said...

We should change our law,to make our country free from all these problems especially for girls,which they are facing because of these animals.

pankaj said...

We should change our law,to make our country free from all these problems especially for girls,which they are facing because of these animals.

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