“Chandigarh is a planned city” – We started our journey with this thought. The city Chandigarh was designed by Le Corbusier. It is well planned. The city is divided in different sectors; each sector having its own markets, parks and other necessities. It was very easy to map and travel in Chandigarh because it is systematically designed. So, we easily found the Hospitals. On the other hand, finding information about abortion clinics, Sexual and reproductive health was a big task. Chandigarh is a union territory with lowest female sex ratio. Hence, the city is very strict about Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (Prohibition of Sex Selection). In such a case, it is very difficult for a woman to seek abortion. Hence, the mapping was bit difficult.
Hidden Pockets does mapping of public health service providers. These services are based on Sexual and reproductive health and rights. Hidden Pockets tries to locate these providers on maps so that people can make use of it when needed. Accessibility, affordability and approachability is the key parameters we check while mapping the hospitals.
We reached Chandigarh by 11 in the morning. The mapping started on the same day . PGI hospital is one of the biggest hospitals in North India” said one of the passenger in the bus which was heading towards Sector 17.
We straight away headed to Sector 12 where PGI was located. PGIMER (Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research) is a medical and research institution located in Chandigarh, India. It has educational, medical research and training facilities for its students. The passenger in the Bus was right about PGI. The campus was big and had several wings with various facilities. Inside PGIMER we saw Nehru Hospital, which was inaugurated by Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru on 7th July 1963.
Nehru Hospital: It is very easy to locate Nehru Hospital. All the auto guys will know it. It is located at Sector 12. One needs to go to C Block, 3rd Floor to meet the Gynae. One would find the Operation theatre just next to the lift. It has several private and general wards for the patient. The cleanliness of the hospital was average. The Hospital guards were helpful. The admit card is available for around INR 2. It is available at the ground floor. Nehru Hospital is a referral hospital. Severe issues are taken up here. It serves thousands of patients.
Then we went to Sector 16, where we saw Government Multi Specialty Hospital, i.e. GMSH 16 Hospital. It is very close to Rose Garden. We followed the sign boards and reached the Department of Gynaecologist. The department is at the ground floor. We saw the Medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) Operation theatre room here. GMSH 16 hospital was the only hospital where we saw MTP O.T. We could not find this room anywhere in other hospitals we visited. The hospital was clean and the security guard was helpful. This hospital also had HIV testing centre. Here the OPD (Out Patient Department) registration costs INR 2.
After Sector 16, we visited Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) which is located at Sector 32. This hospital was the best among the four government hospitals we visited. The Department of Gynaecologist is at Block 2. One needs to reach level 2 (room no: 2408) to see the Gynae. The floor was flooded with ladies and gents. Most of the ladies wore the wedding bangles (chooda). I called this hospital the best because it had lot of facilities which we did not see in other hospitals. On the same floor, we saw special clinic for Sexually Transmitted Infection/Reproductive Transmitted Infections (STIs/RTIs). HIV testing is also available here. I was happy to see a poster related to awareness about HIV and the poster included transgenders also. The hospital also had Paediatric and Adolescent Gynae clinic, counselling and testing centre, a special room for Medical social worker and a minor operation theatre for diseases related to women (Stri Rog). All these facilities were present on the same floor. The hospital was clean. I liked this hospital.
The last hospital we visited was, The Civil Hospital which is located at sector 22. It is the Maternity wing and the Community Health Centre. To meet the gynae one needs to go to room 29 which is on the ground floor. The hospital was smaller than the other hospitals we visited. The operation theatre and labour room is on the first floor. The stairs leading towards them can be found behind the canteen. It also has private and ward rooms. There was one thing which was strange. Outside the Gynae room, law related to Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT)was written. This act bans prenatal sex determination. Having the poster related to PCPNDT next to the gynae room will stop ladies from accessing safe abortion. Sex determination can happen only after 12 weeks. Not everybody is aware of this fact. People looking for safe abortion would return home thinking abortion is completely illegal and might end up dying or suffering due to unsafe abortion methods. What is the point of having facilitators around when at the entrance incomplete information is given?
Finally, if I sum up, Chandigarh Government hospitals are easily accessible. All the auto guys are familiar with them. The hospitals are reasonably clean; the guards are helpful and the doctors try their best to attend all the patients. One needs to be very careful about the posters used inside the hospitals because incomplete information can lead to greater disasters. People of Chandigarh! If you get time, please visit these hospitals and let us know what do you think about them?
The piece is by Aisha Lovely George.