'The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy: A doctor’s memory' of a Deadly Medical Crisis written by Dr. Kafeel Khan was released on Sunday. (Photo | P Ravikumar, EPS)
'The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy: A doctor’s memory' of a Deadly Medical Crisis written by Dr. Kafeel Khan was released on Sunday. (Photo | P Ravikumar, EPS)

Gorakhpur oxygen tragedy is a man-made massacre: Kafeel Khan

In Tamil, the book is called 'Gorakhpur maruthuvamanai thuyara sambavam' translated by S Subbarao.

CHENNAI: The Tamil version of the book 'The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy: A doctor’s memory' of a Deadly Medical Crisis written by Dr. Kafeel Khan and published by Bharathi publications was released at Devanaya Pavanar Public Library by Justice Aribarandaman. 

In Tamil, the book is called 'Gorakhpur maruthuvamanai thuyara sambavam' translated by S Subbarao. K Nagarajan, Dr Rex Sargunam, G. Selva, Reverent Kumar, Mary Lily, Balasubrahmaniam, G Ramakrishnan, M H Jawahi Rulla, and S Kumar were also there in the book publishing ceremony. Dr Kafeel Khan spoke to TNIE on the sidelines of the event.

Could you tell us about what this book means to you? 

The truth is that I am currently living as a refugee in my own country. The reason for writing this book is to share the real story of the state of the healthcare system with the people. Unfortunately, nobody remembers the 81 families and the parents who lost their lives after Baba Raghav Das Medical College’s Nehru Hospital in Gorakhpur ran out of liquid oxygen. My goal is to bring this truth to as many people as possible. Tamil is the sixth language or version of the book, and it has already been translated into other languages such as Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Urdu, and Marathi. Behind the oxygen tragedy, we can see the brutal face of our broken healthcare system. The feedback and comments from the audience have been amazing. There has been a positive response, and even Marathi and Malayalam editions are going to be
reprinted. Kerala was actually the first state to offer to translate the book. In Hindi, no publisher was willing to publish it initially. Madhyamam was the first to approach me to publish it, and it was released in 2022.I wouldn’t call it a tragedy; it’s a man-made massacre. The government was aware of it, and the supplier had been writing letters for the past six months for the payment of `68 lakh. 

What are your goals after you were absolved of all charges of corruption, medical negligence and dereliction of duty in 2019?

I’m dedicated to a single goal- healthcare and the right to healthcare. I’m working on healthcare campaigns with a team of around 52 doctors, health activists, and NGOs. We have proposed legislation for the right to healthcare for all, and I’m proud to say that Rajasthan is the first state to pass this legislation. 

What changes have you witnessed since?

Regarding the current situation of government hospitals, after the tragedy, the government allocated around `7 crore for the hospital. Now, Gorakhpur has an AIIMS, and it’s improving. The primary healthcare system is the backbone of every healthcare system, and we must strengthen it. Unfortunately, it’s in a very bad state in states like UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. 

What are your thoughts on NEET? 

About NEET, I would say it’s a tool to abolish reservation. Now, you can see that a student who scores 100 out of 720, which is not even 20%, can get admission if their father has Rs 1 crore.  On the other hand, a student who scores 600, which is 60%, but can’t afford to pay, won’t get admission. In Tamil Nadu, out of 84 medical colleges, more than 40 are private. My brother was shot when the chief minister was just 500 meters away. I would describe myself as a refugee in my own country.

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