It is really shocking to see the celebrative mood in many circles at the recent crisis in AIMS hospital regarding nurses strike. Every Keralite knows the great service Amma is rendering to society. AIMS has been a pillar of medical support to all those who find it difficult to afford even nominal medical care. It is unthinkable how the entire media forgets this past and project an unfortunate situation that has unfolded. Imagine a 1500 bed hospital where nurses strike without any notice and the inconvenience the patients are put through. It is truly a miracle that no patient casualties were reported due to this strike. Instead of highlighting the grave danger the strike can cause to the well being of patients, the media was showing its bias by finding fault only with the hospital. One feels the pinch only when our own kith and kin suffer from such inhuman strikes.
From the media itself, I came to know that AIMS is paying highest salary to nurses in Kerala. It is well known that charges for most medical services, including medicines, is less in AIMS than in most hospitals in Kerala. Recently, I met a rikshaw driver in a train to Mumbai. He was returning to Mumbai after a surgery in AIMS. A Mumbai hospital had assessed the cost of surgery at Rs. 5 lakhs. With the help of some well wishers he got the surgery done in AIMS and it cost him a total of Rs. 1.0 lakh. The hospital actually returned him Rs. 30,000 from the original deposit of Rs. 1.3 lakhs. He could hardly believe this was true and there were tears in his eyes. In you travel in cities and rural parts of India in the North AIMS is a household name and people think of AIMS only with reverence. Today thousands from different parts of the country visit AIMS both on account of quality medical care and affordable cost of treatment. No other hospital in India can claim this status.
From the developments in the last few days, it is quite evident that several forces are operating behind the scenes to sabotage this great institution. We Keralites have been spared of the high medical charges prevalent in outside states only because of AIMS. Let us not forget that when AIMS started functioning in 1998, the fees for open heart surgery in Kerala dropped from Rs. 1.5 – 2.0 lakhs to Rs. 75, 000. So was the case with several other medical services. It was really unfortunate that no one from AIMS management talked to the media during the strike and gave their version. The total silence from AIMS management was exploited to the hilt by vested interests to to tarnish the name of the hospital.
Regarding the alleged attack on the organizers, we all know that in several instances in Kerala in the past when complaints of misuse of authority, violence or a wrong doing is reported from any institution, the concerned person is liable to answer the charges. For eg. in the case of Sister Abhaya’s murder no one accused Pope or Bishop to answer for the charges. If a police constable beats up a person, would the Chief Minister be made answerable for this action? Of course, the Chief Minister is expected to take action if the policeman has done something wrong. In any organization, such acts will be reported to the police and it is the responsibility of the police to initiate suitable action. However, in AIMS we could see that everyone wants to point the finger at Amma to prove a point. Amma has several institutions and it is illogical to make Amma responsible for the actions of each and every individual who is working in these institutions. Assuming that an AIMS staff got provoked by the agitators and he retaliated, any organization is expected to take action and if required report the matter to the police. It is not fair to sit in judgment that the staff acted in a certain manner with the knowledge and instructions of the management. Most sections of the media tried to portray the management in a poor light and tried to indict them without even ascertaining the facts. The media completely overlooked this aspect and is trying it seems that they are desperate to tarnish Amma’s pristine image in today’s world, a result of a life of dedication and sacrifice for more than four decades.
*ഹൃദയപൂര്വത്തിലേക്ക് ഒരു സുഹൃത്ത് അയച്ചു തന്ന ലേഘനം,