The death of a two-year-old boy in a remote corner of Karnataka is an indication of just how much of a shambles the state’s public health system is.
On Saturday, Mysuru district police arrested Ganapathy (55), after the boy’s father Mohan lodged a complaint with the Bylakuppe police station for causing his son’s death.
Mohan, of Harangi village, told The News Minute that he and his wife took their son Srijan to Ganapathy when he developed a fever some days ago.
“Half the village go to him when there’s a problem. Two months ago he gave a child an injection and everything was fine. So we too took him there. We did not know that he is not a doctor,” Mohan said.
When they first took him to Ganapathy, he prescribed a syrup and gave the boy an injection. “He got better, but then two days later the fever came back. So we took him again to Ganapathy. Each time, he kept telling us he would treat him. Couldn’t he have told us (that we should go to a hospital)?”
Ganapathy owns a medical shop called Basic Medicals eight kilometres away from their house and is not a registered medical practitioner. Police say that he retired from the Army some years ago and that he had claimed to be a doctor.
Mohan does not recall when his son developed a fever but the last few days of his son’s life were spent in shuttling between their village in Mysuru district to either Madikeri which is around 30 km away or to Mysuru which is 100 km away.
On January 11, Srijan died after developing complications from the drugs that Ganapathy administered. He says that when doctors at the government hospital in Madikeri (Kodagu district) examined Srijan, they admonished him and told him that the man was not a doctor. He was told to take Srijan to a hospital in Mysuru because the boy’s health was “serious”.
A private hospital in Mysuru asked them to go to Madikeri, Mohan says, so he followed their advice.
“On Monday morning (January 11), he had developed boils and was foaming at the mouth. The doctors tried, but they could not save him,” Mohan says.
He still does not know what happened to his son. “The doctors told me that the injection he gave is not meant to be given to children below six and he (Ganapathy) gave my son two injections the last time we went to him,” Mohan says, unable to recall the exact date.
Asked why he did not go to a Primary Health Centre – which operates at the village level – when Srijan first became sick, Mohan says that there is one half a kilometre away from his house.
“But there is nothing there. There was a doctor a year ago, but now, there’s no doctor,” he said. “There’s no point going there.”
He said that the government hospital in Kudige village was good, but even there, a paediatrician was not available.
Asked why he filed the complaint on Saturday, Mohan said: “My son is gone and nothing will bring him back, but this should not happen to others.”