Not very long ago timely medical aid for accident victims seemed a far cry.
Successive governments and many leaders, who always laid emphasis only on the road safety and infrastructure as a measure to reduce the possible loss of life, hardly took any care to save these precious lives. As a result, there has never been a significant decrease in the toll that the road accidents were claiming.
It is the thinking of the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy that gave a new dimension to the prevention of the loss of life caused due to delayed medical aid. The late YSR was shocked to learn that 70 per cent of the deaths in accidents were due to delayed first aid to the victims and this made him ponder over the urgent steps to be taken to largely check the menace. Therefore, the 108 took birth.
Although we have a good number of hospitals and ambulances, the large number of deaths is due to delayed medical help. Bridging this gap, fully equipped emergency handling ambulances were pressed into service under the able leadership of YSR. This has been taken up as a joint venture by one of the technology giants that blossomed from our State.
This IT firm provides the services by connecting these emergency services to the needful. The concept of 108 appealed to the public very fast as it is a free emergency service. By 2008, 108 ambulances had handled 5000 emergencies in a day and saved upto 34,000 and odd lives, which is a record of sorts in the State's history.
But, post-YSR it is a totally different scenario. The services have lost their focus and very rarely we get to see a 108 ambulance on the roads.Although the government of the day has been claiming that there are merely 800 ambulances catering to 8 crore population in 23 districts, the sight of 108 is a difficult catch compared to their high visibility and wailing sirens while there are just a fleet of 400!
Earlier, 108 is a buzz word among the public, whereas today it became a rarity. However, our ray of hope shined brighter with our former president APJ Abdul Kalam taking over as the head of EMR.
All this reflects the fact that what needs to serve the people is a leader with commitment and dedication. Rajeevarogya Sree, is a classic example of a complete health card for the unaffordable.
What is needed is the governments of the day should always work sincerely keeping in view the welfare of the people. They should not be viewed as schemes of political parties with an eye on the vote bank. They should be implemented in the larger interests of the people.