Sikkim Progressive Youth Forum (SPYF) demands proper implementation of IPHS i.e Indian Public Health Standards in local district hospitals of Sikkim. SPYF has always been vocal about the injustice in its state and country and has participated in different movements including the protest against the defection of MLA and anti- CAA rally. The Forum, however, strongly believes in the evolution of the hospital machinery, manpower and the free availability of services like medicines etc. The nature of the campaign mainly focuses on their protest regarding privatisation of Health sectors which generally neglects a layman’s basic need for good and proper benefits at government hospitals. The negligence of government officials and their laidback attitude towards the protests has been nurturing the trepidation. This call for help is not a new issue but an age-old problem surfacing above where the eyes could see, yet completely blindsided by the great influence.
The revolution started from 4th February 2018 as the members of SPYF voiced their concern to then Chief Minister for the facilities in Geyzing hospital, where it all started, a memorandum was given to the said Minister and secretary who then verbally assured the forum. When nothing changed for six months until July, SPYF took charge of a protest march of which the Geyzing and western part of Sikkim gathered in 1500 numbers to protest. The memorandum was reframed where Geyzing again asked for a district hospital facilities per IPHS norms, this memorandum when submitted to the health minister was rebuffed most genially, which further made the members sit for Dharna, a strike for 24 hours. Written assurance was given where the health minister guaranteed a positive change within 90 days, which unfortunately also became a failed promise. When nothing came to avail SPYF started Gangtok chalo movement. Where a march started from Geyzing till Gangtok, a strike for 10 days started. The health minister further assured to give basic health care benefits with the modern facilities of ultrasonography, radiologists and appoint a surgeon permanently. The wait extended until the establishment of a new government. Shanker Sharma speaks,
“Upon visiting the various hospitals of Sikkim, we found that the conditions of all the district hospitals and primary centres were the same and miserable. That’s the reason why we went around four districts of Sikkim and we did the Signature Campaign; we had two demands, first being the IPHS criteria fulfilled in these hospitals. Now what are the criteria of IPHS and why such stress on this, if you ask, there is different criteria all together for district hospitals, primary centres and Primary sub-centres? IPHS was introduced by Central Government for the betterment of these health centres, where according to IPHS there are certain guidelines to facilities given in a hospital, as the number of nurses and specialist doctors that are assigned in a hospital, along with the machines like MRI scan, Ultrasound machine for particular hospitals too. The second demand is the free distribution of medicine and facilities one avail from machinery”
The ongoing demands of Sikkim Progressive Youth Forum were written, spoken and marched on for years before the previous government who were then certain to change the scenario, the hope hasn’t died as the new government takes its throne.
“We had to convince the previous government, who listened to us and assured us many things, yet nothing changed. As said before, we were with the current government when they placed 35 demands in front of the previous government asking it to be fulfilled during the Sikkim Band. Among the 35 demands, one of the demands was of these health centres, where criteria of IPHS were to be fulfilled and the distribution of free medicine given in medical centres. There are however few changes that has occurred in the Geyzing hospital after the agitation. The numbers of nurses and doctors have increased along with the addition of radiologist which new machines. There are a few things still need to be done as these hospitals have no stock medicines except for few that are given for free. The syringes too are not provided but bought from dispensaries.”
The commercialisation of education and hospitals in the past decades has a deteriorating effect on our society. Sikkim being a small but productive state with a handful of the population does not demand in vain but for the basic right of its citizen. As illness do not prejudice among rich and poor; death is inevitable and sometimes avoidable with proper equipment and facilities. The voices have been muffled before, yet the SPYF hopes in optimist light of the current new government for change. A new memorandum has been framed with the same old demands to the new government for a right to medical services. The time stretches as they wait for the return of health minister from Delhi and their demands to be fulfilled this time. The month of March opens door to a new budget, the Forum hopes for the betterment of the conditions of health and hospitals. Only time will tell if power really changes mindsets or Sikkim becomes the best state with the best hospitals services of the country.