Delhi Government move to treat all accident victims free of cost is commendable
The Arvind Kejriwal Government has taken a thoughtful and good decision by deciding to bear the hospitalization expenses of all accident victims even if they are treated in a private hospital. This is a welcome move because as the Chief Minister rightly said many lives could be saved if victims are treated in time, particularly in the ‘Golden Hour’ immediately after an accident. India has an unacceptable number of road accident victims. In 2016, over 1,50,000 people died on Indian roads and in the Capital alone, India’s most congested city in terms of vehicular traffic, Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain polnted out that an estimated 1,600 people died on the roads last year. While some of these deaths were perhaps unavoidable, a lack of Quick treatment would have accounted for at least a Quarter of the deaths.
Even if accidents, whether on the road or elsewhere, are not fatal, the lack of prompt treatment could lead to permanent physical damage such as paralysis or amputation. Loss of blood or head trauma if not treated Quickly leads to severe brain damage. With government hospitals few and far in densely populated parts of the city with little or no ability to cope with the volume of patients but a large numbers of private healthcare providers in the city, this move will definitely prevent a few hundred fatalities annually at the very least. And every life is important. Every life lost is not just a life lost but families, friends, and colleagues shattered. Other State governments can and must learn from this move by the Delhi Government.
However,the Government should be careful to ensure that they do not get overcharged by hospitals as has tragically become almost a norm. Health care costs in this country are spiraling out of control and falling victim to an inadvertent accident could bankrupt a family. And that should not be the case. It must, however, be kept in mind that this move treats the consequences – the Government must also focus on the cause, which is the terrible traffic and horrendous driving habits of Delhi’s residents. On this front, the Delhi Government’s transport department and Delhi Traffic Police should work together and implement a zero-tolerance policy towards bad driving habits which are the cause of most accidents on the road. And the same is true across the country. We as society we need to start a much more safety conscious culture, one that values human life. It is also important for more Indians to realize the value of life and accident insurance, because while the Delhi Government is now going to taking care of accident victims most States turn a blind eye to this issue. It is imperative that attitudes change both in the administration and among citizens. A culture of safety and caring will go a long way in changing habits and attitudes, not to mention saving lives.