Sudhanva Shetty Shetty
Writer, coffee-addict, likes folk music & long walks in the rain. Firmly believes that there's nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate.
Participating in the BJP’s ‘Jana Raksha Yatra’ march in Kannur, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath attacked the state Left Democratic Front (LDF) government over, among other things, “political killings” and “love jihad”.
Adityanath also attacked the southern state’s healthcare system. Speaking to reporters, he said, “In one year, there have been more than 300 deaths in Kerala due to dengue and several hundred deaths due to chikungunya. This shows the CPM government is not handling its responsibility.”
He also said, “The Kerala government should learn from UP how to run hospitals.” (video)
This is being seen as a retort to CPI(M) party chief Sitaram Yechury where he said, “Yogi Adityanath is in Kerala. Our advice to him is that he should first take care of Uttar Pradesh. But since he is there he should also visit the government hospitals to learn how health services should be provided and should also see how quality education is imparted in government schools.”
Adityanath says Kerala should learn from UP; Yechury says UP should learn from Kerala. Who has facts on their side?
The UP CM’s statement crumbles under even minor scrutiny: Kerala is consistently among the best performers – or the best – in nearly all health parameters while UP is consistently among the worst performers.
Adityanath’s claim that 300 dengue deaths plagued Kerala in one year is exaggerated, as BOOM Live reports here.
His numbers on chikungunya deaths cannot be verified as there is no official data on the number of chikungunya deaths; there is only data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the list of clinically suspected chikungunya fever cases – and this number has actually been decreasing in Kerala since 2013.
Now, comparing hospital services in Uttar Pradesh and Kerala, a wide gap becomes apparent.
When it comes to institutional delivery (percentage of children delivered in hospital, a key indicator of maternal and infant mortality), official data shows that the gap is very pronounced. In Kerala, nearly all children are born in a hospital (99.8%) while in UP this number of 57.9%, well below the national average of 78.5%.
When the comparison is made based on healthcare in general in the two states, the divide widens further. In fact, according to the Health Index developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Kerala’s healthcare was ranked as the best in the country, while UP was ranked as the second-worst. Kerala was classified as a “High Performer” while UP was classified as a “Struggler”.
When it comes the crucial classifier of the Human Development Index (HDI), Kerala stands first among Indian states while UP is among the worst. Kerala has a score of 0.7117, comparable to that of the Maldives; meanwhile, UP has a score of 0.5415, akin to that of Pakistan.
The results are similar when it comes to other parameters like maternal mortality, infant mortality, open defecation, immunised children and life expectancy. Kerala’s performance is among the most positive performers in all these aspects while UP is ranked among the lowest.
2017 proved to be a rocky year for UP’s healthcare system, which is already in dire conditions. Despite having fought last year’s deadly chikungunya outbreak successfully, the encephalitis crisis worsened. In early August, over 70 children died in a government hospital in Gorakhpur, CM Adityanath’s constituency for almost 20 years, after the oxygen supply was cut off due to non-payment of dues to the private supply.
The incident sparked international outrage and shed focus on local administrative and medical mismanagement.
Then again, on August 27, 28 and 29, 61 deaths were recorded at the same hospital. In the third such outrageous incident, 49 newborns reportedly lost their lives at a government hospital in Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh in one month.
CM Adityanath said that Kerala should learn from UP how to maintain hospitals, but UP’s record in hospital maintenance and virtually all health parameters contradict his statement. The CM is definitely not solely to blame for UP’s health woes: for almost two decades, he was an MP from the state, not its CM. However, when a powerful politician makes such incorrect claims on another state, it becomes obvious that he is trying to malign the entire state. Such behaviour is not expected from a public personality, let alone a Chief Minister.
Kerala is by no means a perfect state but when it comes to health, at least, one can safely and surely conclude that Kerala is miles ahead of UP, and almost all other states. CM Adityanath should look to Kerala for inspiration, treat its healthcare system as a role model and aspire to achieve similar success in UP. Maligning it instead in such a manner will not help anybody, least of all the citizens of Uttar Pradesh.
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