As per a report by government think tank NITI Aayog, Bihar ranked the lowest in a study on the state of district hospitals. While the country has an average of 24 beds per one lakh population, Puducherry topped the list with 222 beds, whereas Bihar came in last with only six beds per one lakh population in the state.
The study, titled ‘Best Practices in the Performance of District Hospitals’, was released on Thursday, 28 September. NITI Aayog noted in the report that as per the 2012 Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) guidelines, it is recommended that states maintain at least 22 beds per one lakh population in their district hospitals.
When asked about the state’s performance in the index, Bihar’s Health Minister Mangal Pandey avoided questions. While Chief Minister Nitish Kumar heard questions, he responded saying that he did not know why the state had performed so poorly.
Notably, Bihar had denied having a shortage of beds during both waves of the coronavirus pandemic when reports of patients lying on the floor at Siwan’s Sadar Hospital had emerged.
The study, however, refutes Pandey’s claim, as the data for the report was collected prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While both Pandey and Kumar have avoided answering questions about the report’s findings, Building Construction Department Minister Ashok Chaudhary has outright refused to accept the NITI Aayog report. As per reports, the state’s government will conduct its own study to rank districts as per NITI Aayog’s system and will do so along 17 major parameters.
Earlier in June, Bihar had refused to accept another NITI Aayog report that placed Bihar at the bottom of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) index, with the state’s Planning Development Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav calling it an injustice to Bihar.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav commented on the chief minister being unaware of the reason behind the state’s crumbling health infrastructure. “Now, whoever is in power, what will they say? The truth is that there is corruption and crime in Bihar. The medical and health infrastructure of the state is in shambles. It has become the hub of unemployment.”
"I had said earlier too that this is a ‘tired’ chief minister. He can’t handle Bihar. Instead of being interested in improving Bihar and the condition of its people, he is interested in protecting his seat of power."Tejashwi Yadav, RJD Leader
Speaking on the report’s findings, former deputy CM and Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Modi said that the state has made significant growth in the medical department in the last 15 years.
“I urge NITI Aayog to show states’ progressive analysis along with the rankings. In 2005, one could not find even needles and cotton in Bihar’s hospitals and there were dogs on hospital beds. In the last 15 years, Bihar’s health system has improved and that is why Bihar has been able to save thousands of lives during the pandemic,” Modi said.
As per the report, 15 states and Union territories had district hospitals with lower than the recommended number of beds. Bihar came in last with six beds per one lakh population, just after Jharkhand and Telangana, which had nine and 10 beds per one lakh population each.