A British milestone now in private hands

January 13th, 2009 - 12:48 am ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, Jan 12 (IANS) Several people shouted slogans to protest the privatisation of the over century-old Palanpur General Hospital in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district, comparing it to the selling of family silver.The hospital Monday changed hands with a new owner Wockhardt Hospitals taking it over. The hospital had been inaugurated over 100 years ago by a Briton, Colonel Merry Weather, and was named as Good Fellow Hospital.

With a capacity of 250 beds and spread over 19 acres, the hospital has been catering to the needs of millions of poor in Banaskantha district.

“The district administration will keep a close watch to ensure the interest of the poor and common people are in no way compromised,” said District Collector R.J. Patel. As part of public-private partnership the state government entered into an MoU with Wockhardt, which came into force Monday, Patel said.

“It is for the first time in the country that a government-run hospital has been taken over by a private company. Ours is a corporate company having administrative experience of about 18 to 20 big hospital,” a representative of Wockhardt, Divakar Yadav said.

“Since Wockhardt chairman Habil Khorakiwala hails from Palanpur it was his effort to provide the best services to the people of his native land,” Yadav said.

Anil Pandya, president of the Palanpur Civil Hospital Bachao Abhiyan Samiti (Save Palanpur civil hospital society), claimed that no private company would really bother about the poor as their main interest is profit-making. “We will continue our agitation until the charade of privatization is withdrawn,” Pandya said.

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