Of Public Health and Public Health Engineering!
For the last more than two weeks the state’s public health engineering department is in news for allegations of malpractices leveled by none other than the sitting minister who took over the reins of the department recently. The scene is getting filthier with renewed accusations and brazen denials. Surprisingly! Getting cue from this hullabaloo a new controversy about purchase and supply of spurious and substandard medicines for state health department has cropped up from somewhere. Both the allegations are of serious nature and directly related with the health of common man. The more interesting angle of this tragic drama is that very recently the present ministers of the ministries of public health and public health engineering swapped their portfolios in the recent cabinet reshuffle and now they level allegations of wrongdoing and cast aspersions on each other’s working. The genesis of this whole story of surprises and scoops is political rivalry within the particular political clan and settling political scores on the instance of their political masters. And in this whole absurd tragedy the common man is the ultimate sufferer.
In contemporary public health scenario more of the human health is directly or indirectly related with quality of portable water. After air the most polluted constituent of environment is water, that too mainly by the mankind himself. Water is lifeline for mankind. However, being the most potential source of carrying causal organisms of infection and subsequently causing extensive infectious disease requires utmost care while handling. Any neglect in treatment and distribution of potable water is criminal. Public health engineering department being exclusively responsible for distribution of safe potable water cannot afford any laxity leave alone the bungling and swindle. The accusations of fraud against the earlier dispensation by the incumbent minister are of serious nature and cannot be overlooked as a mere allegation to browbeat his political rival within the party. Such allegations are directly related with healthy survival of millions and it is moral responsibility of the present political leadership to dig out the facts and fix responsibilities. In our state particularly in Kashmir valley there is abundance of fresh and clean water but its negligent management and distribution with widespread fraud has ruined the whole concept of public health engineering in the state. The incidents of waterborne diseases and infections are a common scene in a place like Kashmir, particularly in rural areas where concept and system of accountability is at its lowest ebb. Most of the PHE schemes in the countryside are either defunct or ill-conceived and does not serve the purpose of providing safe drinking water to people. In this obscure situation every accusing finger has to be taken into account seriously irrespective of its origin and source.
Now for the last few days another bombshell has fell upon the public health of the inhabitants of this state. This time the incumbent Health Minister has indirectly accused his predecessor and his team of wrong doings in purchase of medicines for state health department and favoring spurious medicine suppliers of his choice. This charge is severer than the earlier one detailed above as it is directly related with the survival of distressed people. The pain and agony inflicted on the desperately ill people by being administered with substandard life saving medicine is the most ghastly and unpardonable act in a civilized society. The practice of favor and nepotism in awarding government contracts and supply orders is not new. This menacing practice is prevalent in almost all parts of the world. But playing with the lives of the desperate people is the most shameless act of dishonesty against mankind.
Surprisingly, the political bickering within our political system has unintentionally helped in exposing certain layers of sleazy corruption practised in our system at the cost of health and life of the common man. The present trail of alleged bungling exposes the ugliest face of political corruption and wrongdoing.
All other shapes and forms of wrongdoings are tolerable in a system where the theory of ‘lesser evil’ is applicable in almost all spheres of life. However, any act of transgression or deceit jeopardizing the survival of mankind is not only unbearable but should get the highest punishment. To be fair enough and maintain the ethical self discipline in these columns, let us presume that at this point of time both these allegations are mere accusations and cannot be relied upon unless substantiated with proof and evidence. But at the same time it cannot be denied that the matter has been put in public domain by the most respectable citizens of the state with good political standing and holding the constitutional posts. So, it will be in the best interest of the people of the state and the public image of the concerned accusers and the accused to investigate both the matters on priority; fix responsibilities and punish the guilty.