A Rabbit cannot be simply upscaled to an elephant, Learnings from the tragedy at Baba Raghav Das Medical College, Gorakhpur

Prof. K K Aggarwal

For the last 4 days, Country is discussing this unfortunate incident of death of so many children. I am really surprised (amused will be a wrong word to use while talking about a tragedy ) over some of the statements, such as : Encephalitis is NOT a new disease; Deaths are NOT because of shortage of Oxygen; Number of deaths is NOT alarmingly large, and so on. Well, even if ONE death occurs due to negligence, it is serious enough. Whom to blame ?

The current tendency is to immediately turn any situation anywhere in the Country into failure of ruling dispensation vis-à- vis high sensitivity of those unable to be a part of ruling dispensation due to the best & most peaceful democracies in the world, we have (and it is party neutral, to a good extent ). Some moral concern is certainly there, but can the Chief Minister or Health Minister of the State be held directly accountable? In the great noise, to which all contribute to the best of their might, the real issues get lost either immediately or duly facilitated by few months of enquiry proceedings and then……., the next event somewhere in some form……and so on.

It is high time, we learn from such unfortunate events, not for scoring high in the blame game but for reducing the probability of recurrence. I, with due apologies because of my limited knowledge of the facts, make a few observations :

  1. The Hospital started, with very noble intentions, acquired the reputation of being the best in the region, particularly for neo- natal care. Why can’t we learn to make the peak a plateau ? A Medical College was added after 75 years of the noble existence of the Hospital and then the number of patients and students kept increasing. Did other parameters (Infrastructure, Staff, Resources,…,etc ) increase as per requirements ? I read an interesting paper which explained, using good knowledge of physics, that A RABBIT CAN NOT BE SIMPLY UPSCALED TO AN ELEPHANT. If it is attempted, we may neither be left with RABBIT nor ELEPHANT. We have to multiply rabbits or design an Elephant by following design principles applicable for that size.

  2. Dual Control (or at times, multiple control ) is responsible for many such situations. Everyone becomes interested in control rather than guidance or facilitation. This is a typical situation in the
    Country, where a Hospital & associated Medical College is under two different senior doctors. In some cases, even these two report to different offices. A highly desirable feature of convergence between Health Care & Medical Education gets eliminated in the process.

As Vice Chancellor of I P University in Delhi, while affiliating Medical Colleges in Delhi – I took a conscious decision, notwithstanding the common practice in most colleges & much to the disliking of many officers in the University, that the University will only make admissions, conduct examinations, declare results & award degrees. It will have absolutely nothing to do with Financial or Administrative aspects of the Colleges, which will continue to rest with the associated Hospitals.

Comments are closed.