One Gone, Many More to Come?
Twenty-three newborn kids died in Sree Avittam Thirunal (SAT) hospital, one of the premier hospitals in Trivandrum, Kerala, India in the month of April. The reason - microbial infection in the labor room due to the unhygienic conditions existing in the hospital.
Remember this happened in a state that is proud of its achievements in the health sector. Will this incident be an eye opener to the people/administration to give more importance to prevent environmental pollution and encourage hygienic practices in Kerala?
If we see what happened immediately after the above incident, the things are not going to change. The Government suspended the Chief of the Hospital. The opposition parties called for the resignation of Kerala Health Minister and painted the incident as a failure on the part of the LDF Government. For them it is the time to point fingers at each other. If one went through the statements made by the Opposition leaders in this issue one would get the feeling that the bacteria/virus responsible for this death knew that LDF and Achuthanandan were in power in Kerala and it is the right time to multiply itself in the labor room of the hospital and give a political shock to the LDF.
Such kinds of statements shift the focus from real issues. We have leaders who can talk hours about the harmful content in Pepsi/Coke (no one in the world had died drinking them) for hours but we don’t have any leaders/administrators who know that labor room and all the equipments should always be kept sterile.
The political parties instead of throwing mud at each other should have taken time to understand why this happened and worked together so that such a thing never repeats in future. See the sewer system in Trivandrum. All waste is dumped into the rivers and thus rivers get polluted. Best example is Parvathy Puthanar in Trivandrum. It is supposed to be a flowing river but it has become a place to dump waste and wastewater. What is the result of this exploitation? The various pollutants in this wastewater will percolate through the ground and reach the groundwater. This water reaches the well or the pumping station and people will drink this highly contaminated water. So in the near future if you hear news that more than 100 people in Trivandrum have a particular kind of incurable cancer don’t get shocked. These kinds of things are just waiting to happen.
I took Trivandrum just as an example. Being from there it was easy to explain. Other cities in Kerala are no way different. Can you find a place in Kochi that is not affected by mosquito menace? If things continue at this rate diseases like Plague, Malaria are around the corner.
So what is the solution? The simple solution is to make people aware of the importance of preserving the environment. But creating awareness and hoping things will change is never going to happen at all, at least in Kerala. I feel the Government/authorities should take steps with private participation to keep environment from deteriorating by developing proper infrastructure to prevent pollution.
Having lived and studied/worked as an Environmental Engineer in US for the last 6 years, I know the investment required to build such an infrastructure. The investment required is much more than what a state Government that is already having sufficient deficit can raise. We need to have a modern water treatment plant(s), wastewater treatment plant that is capable of treating all the wastewater generated in a city, scientific way to collect garbage generated in each city. This list can go on and on. This can be achieved only by private participation.
“Developing infrastructure by private participation” is an allergic term for many in Kerala. Those people argue that it will increase the price of basic necessities like drinking water and they also argue that private companies are making money by selling even the water of our land. The price of basic necessities may go up. No private investor will invest in anything if he cannot get his return back with profit. But I believe that the increased price we pay - say for drinking water- will be much less compared to the price our future generation will have to pay if we don’t develop our infrastructure and prevent pollution.
PREVENTING ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION BY INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IS THE BEST GIFT WE CAN GIVE TO OUR NEXT GENERATION.