A tragedy with questions

Editorial

A tragedy occurred last week: a six-week-old baby died at the Largyab Basic Health unit in Dagana after hours of waiting for an ambulance that had run out of fuel.

We are struck with wonder and disbelief at this but maybe we cannot quite comprehend the grief and frustration of the parents of the baby over not being able to save their child for as minuscule a reason as being unable to arrange an ambulance.

Whom are we to blame? Who will take accountability for the loss of an innocent life? What further explanation can we give to the bereaved? Should we blame the health authorities for not keeping a fueled ambulance ready for emergencies or the gewog administration for delay in release of funds? Or in the words of the parents, people from the remotest places get airlifted if they are seriously sick; why not their baby?

The higher authorities in JDWNRH denied use of helicopter services. They must be held accountable for this lapse. What are the criteria for airlifting a sick person? What are the procedures? Who sets the rules? Who dictates the kind of cases that can be airlifted and not? These are questions that came too late. The baby is no more.

At a time when the government has declared a Nu 4.53bn salary raise, how can such emergency facilities like ambulances be kept unfueled? Lives depend on such amenities. If the government can’t fuel a single ambulance, how can they go about declaring salary revisions worth billions and other programs and plans that would cost the government coffer aplenty? First, fuel a basic ambulance. The rest will automatically fall in place. The bigger responsibilities can be handled only if you take care of the smaller ones. The Ministry of Health issued an explanation but that does not nullify or justify anything. The fact is that the authorities failed to act on time and the baby died. Sometimes, an apology and a statement that such incidences will not happen in the future is more consolation than issuing dry, hard facts that are as hard to digest as husk.

Also, could not the gewog authorities have arranged fuel for an emergency? Is it too much to ask for when a life is at stake? This tragedy will remembered for a long time. As a failure of relevant authorities to act in synchronization and coordination. It will also be remembered as a lapse in values and compassion. Nobody came forward to help. But then, maybe if some individuals had known they could have helped. Whatever the case, it does not change the fact that a life was lost due to incompetency of people involved.

We can only hope that a major lesson has been gleaned from the situation and it will not be repeated.

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