When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the phrases we were often accustomed to hearing were “everyone’s in the same boat” or “the virus does not differentiate”, however, maybe it’s time to think back if these metaphorical implications are actually sound. On July 11, Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan tweeted out that he’d tested positive for the Coronavirus. The action that followed after Bachchan’s tweet, set the stage for debate and controversy on the partiality of health care systems in our country.
The Bachchan family tests positive for Coronavirus
Quoting his tweet, the superstar said: “T 3590 -I have tested CoviD positive .. shifted to Hospital .. hospital informing authorities .. family and staff undergone tests, results awaited ..All that have been in close proximity to me in the last 10 days are requested to please get themselves tested!”
Hours later Abhishek Bachchan confirmed he was positive for Coronavirus too. Bachchan - often described as India’s most influential actor - and son, have mild symptoms. Doctors described their condition as stable and said that they do not need aggressive treatment. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter were asymptomatic and in-home isolation. The actors stuck to the protocol, by informing the local authorities and getting themselves admitted at the Nanavati hospital. However, it would be hard not to take note of the favouritism that was shown.
Why the criticism?
Since the pandemic crippled India’s health infrastructure, there has seldom been instances of rapid response, on part of the local authorities. Media reports of people having to wait hours at the gates of hospitals, sometimes even dying in the process, have been doing the rounds.
To highlight these apathies on part of the hospitals, here are a few instances. A shocking video had emerged in May, of a Mumbai hospital, wherein patients were shown with body bags beside them.
Private hospitals accounting for 60% of India’s total hospital bed capacity, refused admission to patients, citing the lack of beds as a reason. News of a patient having to sleep on the floor, until a bed became available in a state-run facility made headlines. A pregnant woman died after being denied admission by 3 private hospitals on the outskirts of Mumbai.
In June, a government survey was conducted by Ayushman Bharat, an agency that administers a health insurance scheme for the poor. The findings suggested that 22 of 101 private hospitals had provided so few services that they were deemed inactive. Out of a group of 96 private hospitals asked if they’d provided any Covid-19 treatment, 81 said no.
Turn time to the recent spate of events, when Bachchan announced his Coronavirus test results. Things were very different. Everyone right from the authorities to the medical fraternity jumped into action at the drop of a hat. Isolation beds in the city are a far cry. There are close to none that seem available when the common man needs them. Thus, it is surprising that things came easy when a biggie was the one in need.
Discrimination in treatment is obvious and unavoidable. But this isn’t the only bone that people have to pick with the celebrity.
Bachchan advocates homoeopathy
Critics have now gone on to question why the Senior Bachchan is resorting to allopathy for treatment for Coronavirus. This, when he, in fact, was an advocate of homoeopathy as a potential cure for COVID-19. To add to this, Bachchan had also previously been vocal about stating eccentricities surrounding the virus. In March, when PM Modi appealed to people to clang utensils as a support to health care workers, Bachchan had then insisted that the vibrations from these sounds have the potential to destroy Coronavirus. The claim was so viral that the government’s Press Information Bureau had to issue a fact-check. These past claims have fueled people’s questions as to why has the superstar now begun to believe that the virus is actually a serious threat, that cannot be driven away by noise, and that actually needs medical intervention.
Wishes for the Bachchan family’s speedy recovery from the Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind. However, the absolute penchant towards famous personalities, that is deeply rooted in India’s healthcare system is wrong, the common man cannot come to terms with.