Sunday, April 8, 2007


Last night I heard something amazingly awful that all night I dreamt about it.
I have worked one year in Unity Health Complex, Mangalore. My worst years in career, an autocratic organisation that has no idea where it is going and anyone can be anybody there. The pharmacy boy is the Administrative Co-ordinator there, the PRO is asked to be the Chairman's secretary and MBA graduates are receptionists... The saddest group are the nurses there. Paid bare minimum salary that hardly even stretches beyond 15 days or so, everyday the Matron, the Administrative Co-ordinator, the Chairman, the ED and every passing Harry finds out something to cut their salary/cancel their holidays/suspend them/dismiss them. And finally the hospital refuses to give them an experience certificate too. Icing on the shit!!
Having known how bad the nurses' conditions are in hospitals, yesterday's news didnt surprise me, it horrified me. Most of the nursing students come from the southern part of Kerala - Kottayam, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Idukki... daughters and sons of poor parents. The lure of a job abroad in USA, UK or Middle East where the pay for a nurse is high has led lakhs of families to acquire loans, borrow, beg and sell their land to send their offsprings off to any nursing school that will accept them and the huge fees. Most of these colleges are unrecognized by the Government and Education Boards. Conducted from tiny buildings rented out, probably in a single floor without proper labs or practicals available; its quite obvious how good they will be in their profession.
Karnataka has the highest number of nursing colleges and schools in the country. With a total of 550 colleges out of the 1540 in the country, most of these institutions crop up without the least clue. A government Task Force Report that came out last year said that the conditions of 302 schools were unsatisfactory and 108 colleges did not meet the required standards. The Task Force headed by C.M Gurumurthy recommended the government not to sanction new nursing schools and colleges for the next three years. The report also came out with a surprising news that most of the colleges existed only on paper with the classes conducted in shanties, rented rooms and dilapidated buildings. This, in a state that turns out lakhs of Nurses every year. Sathya Sai School of Nursing - a paper school that does not exist at the given address. M.A.J School of Nursing that has students but no building.
Ok, lets just forget all that above there. The nurses finally scrape through these years, living in bare minimum facilities provided hostels, 13-hour work schedules, bond period, huge sums of fees borrowed from banks at cut-throat interest rates, poor food, poorer remuneration salary. A job as a nurse in India today is hard to find and harder to please. Forget the pink frosted icing words of Florence Nightingale "Most noble profession on earth" and blah blah blah.There are nurses working for a monthly salary of 1500! A pen today costs 10, and a meal at 15. With the "Sons of Soil" policy declared in UK and USA, the job market abroad had slammed the door on their face. With salaries and job on the low profile, the nurses are under immense pressure from the family and the financial issues. This is where my news comes in...
A huge rise of pharmaceutical giants in India has opened job markets for a huge population. This is where the nurses come in.Pharmaceutical Companies like Smithkiline Beecham, Apollo Hospital, St. John Hospitals etc. pays these nurses Rs.5000 - Rs. 20000 for allowing them to test their latest drugs on them. Human guinea pigs in the real. The nurses -male and female are paid Rs. 100 for registering and after a thorough check-up, a healthy nurse is injected with the drug and he/she is to report back after 30 days with details of side-effects if any. The hospital or the company is responsible for treating the side-effects only during this 30-day period, after which the company or the hospital is not responsible. And most of these nurses take two to three shots from different companies and hospitals, making huge amounts to pay off their loans and extravaganza. There are also companies offering the latest gadgets in exchange to this "be-a-monkey" offer. Most of theses nurses pay no attention to the havoc the reactions these drugs can cause or they don't care. Maybe they find it easier to pay of debts this way with the bleak future they see ahead as nurses. The injecting of multiple drugs into their bodies and what havoc these drugs can wreak on their health.

What is happening to my generation? Is it all going down to easy-money, latest gadgets and pizzas and colas? Is it the pressure each one of us faces in today's world? The New World?


Gautham said...

There will be an era when people will be from the species of Homo Sapiens. (we are no more from that species Aisha, when we felt like evolution was slow, we had changed ourselves into something else.) And we, -people like you and me- are endangered species. Keep this in mind that we cannot afford to go extinct. It all depend upon us. Keep swimming, be alive, dodge from the sharks, but fight a silent fight!

Muhammad Riyaz said...

We all had a pampered childhood. Thats not the real world. Real world has more shit below the icing. Still its the same icing that people crave for. There is no short cut for well being. Work hard. Patience. Steadfastness. Not expecting anything other than the unexpected.

fawaz said...

and yet this is the best homo sapiens sapiens has ever had it.... if its like this now, can you imagine how brutish, painful and short life must have been in the past? and the paster? and the pastest? the bible says that the meek shall inherit the earth. Someone else said that the meek shall inherit the earth by getting trampled into it. I loook forward to contradicting you further, soda.

Harold said...

I have come to your post accidently seeing your comment on Ambi's post. It was shocking to learn that the nurses who know the side-effects of medicines volunteer themselves for such experiments. The high expectations of family members on these poor sisters and brothers may be mounting pressure on them.

Ambi said...

Dear Aisha,
We read your post and with utmost seriousness feel that it is high time someone intervened and addressed this matter of social catastrophe.As you know, a mass movement and awareness campaign is showing signs of getting surfaced to deal with the problems and human right violations faced by a lare section of the labourers in our country. It would be of great help if you could get any details or records of the informations given in your post in any form possible, as a proof. Also further details and informations related or otherwise will also be highly appreciated.
Above all mutual cooperation and joint efforts will help us to go a long way in this matter.

kaaliyambi, gouriprasad