Fielding questions from seasoned politicians may be a child's play for them. But senior officials felt cornered facing the little citizens. The administrators were clearly ill at ease answering queries from schoolchildren at a ‘face to face' programme organised by COVA and Indian Children Action Network (ICAN) here on Tuesday.
Why one has to pay a tip for every work in a government hospital? Why the budgetary allocation is only 2 per cent for health sector in the country?
The questions flew fast and thick. “Well, in terms of percentage the health budget might look meagre but it is actually Rs. 2000 crore,” informed B. Madhusudan Rao, Joint Director, Health. But he conveniently ignored the question on corruption.
About 500 children from 25 schools, mostly private, turned up at the Moghal Function Hall in Falkanuma for an interaction with officials. They put questions concerning, health, education and recreational facilities in the twin cities.
“The idea is to expose children to the realities of life and let them demand their rights in a democratic way,” said Mazhar Husain, COVA president.
Many children wondered why there is only one exclusive hospital for children in the government sector, Niloufer Hospital, in the city when children constituted 30 per cent of the population. Government should set up at least one dispensary for every 20,000 children, they said.
Shaista Fatima of Kilpatrick Mission School pointed out lack of amenities in the Niloufer Hospital. “There is no clean water or beds,” she remarked.
Children also grilled the officials about absence of sophisticated equipment in government hospitals and whatever machines existed did not work.
Mr. Madhusudan Rao said patients and their attendants who visited hospital should keep the premises clean and make proper use of available facilities.
Syed Aminul Hasan Jafery, MLC, said Hyderabad was emerging as the health capital and the facilities here were better than other States. However, he felt the money spent by the government under Arogyasri scheme for treatment of poor in corporate hospitals should be used to strengthen its own hospitals.
The children reeled out statistics on recreation. Only 46 municipal playgrounds in the city for 25 lakh child population. There should be at least 2,500 playgrounds, one for every 1000 children, said Shaik Mohd Hamed.
Mohd Rizwan Khan of Sultan Uloom school wondered why the government can't have a master plan to acquire properties and then turn them into playgrounds as is done for road widening. “As roads are necessary for people so are playgrounds and parks for children,” he remarked.
Officials had no answer for this. All that P. Laxma Reddy, Regional Joint Director, Education, said was that private schools too can use the municipal grounds.
Officials were taken aback at the demand from girl students for separate playgrounds for them. “Girls form 50 per cent of children and we want separate playgrounds,” said M. Nirosha of Gems High School.
Mr. Jafery said 99 per cent of the private schools have to shut down if the rules about playground was enforced. Under the master plan, recreational zones were clearly marked out but problem lay with enforcement and violation of rules by citizens, he said.
The officials were also quizzed about lack of library, computer and science lab faculties in schools. Problems faced by girls due to absence of toilets was pointed out by Vaishnavi of Geeta High School. “Many girls are forced to drop out,” she said.