The fire accident at the AMRI hospital in Kolkata, where over ninety people lost their lives is painful to say the least. As media reports continue to emerge, the dismal state of affairs only becomes more and more apparent and appalling by the minute. It turns out that the fire and emergency department of the Bengal government had full information about the lack of preparedness of AMRI to fight fire but that did not prevent it from renewing a no-objection certificate on August 29 of this year. In other words, if simple rules were followed, the hospital would not have been allowed to function unless the shortcomings were addressed and fixed. To make matters worse, once the fire broke out, people from the nearby slums who came to help out were turned away. As a result, helpless, sick patients were left to die while rescue teams took hours to reach the scene of the tragedy. Sadly, a couple of dedicated nurses lost their lives in an attempt at rescuing patients — classic collateral damage, that will soon escape the headlines. Ironically, India’s greatest healthcare tragedy occurred in the state of West Bengal, which was fortunate to have had the services of Mother Theresa for several decades.
We, as a nation, have reason to feel a strong sense of responsibility for these tragic deaths. It is a result of our overall sense of apathy and tolerance for sloppy services. As a civilized nation in this day and age, we have failed ourselves and our fellow citizens. The result is that several innocent people lost their lives because of poor management, inadequate safety standards, and the blatant failure to implement and execute laws. Any one of us could very well have been one of those hapless patients who lost their lives because of sheer all-round incompetence. Hopefully, this tragedy should serve as a wake up call and highlight the need for serious reform in our healthcare sector.