GMCH HIV FIASCO
Debt of Rs 5.5 lakh incurred to meet hospital costs, house mortgaged, belongings sold out
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 12: The father of the three-and-a-half year old boy who acquired human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection allegedly after blood transfusion at the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital is reluctant to get his son discharged from the hospital. The reason – he is under crushing debt incurred in meeting the costs of his son’s treatment. Besides, he is practically homeless after mortgaging his house and selling off choice belongings.
“I have spent over Rs 5.5 lakh for my son’s treatment at the GMCH. All the money has been borrowed. I have even mortgaged our house for Rs 3.5 lakh. I am clueless how I will repay all the money I borrowed,” rued the despondent father, anxiously watching his son who is currently on Anti-Retroviral Therapy.
The boy was admitted at the hospital on April 15 last year after he suffered 40 percent burn injuries in an accident. He was under treatment at the hospital till October 3 last, during which period about a dozen surgeries were performed on him. He was re-admitted again on March 29 this year for two more surgeries.
The boy tested positive for HIV on March 30 after which he has been put on Anti-Retroviral Therapy.
A resident of Kamrup, the victim’s father is a daily wage earner. He ekes a living by driving vehicles and doing various other petty work to support his family.
“To meet his treatment costs, we have sold everything – our TV, gas cylinder, mobile phone,” he said in utter despair.
The miseries of the family, which unfolded ever since the victim was admitted at the GMCH last year, have only increased by the day.
To make it worse, there are already murmurs and an undertone of suspicion in their village.
“Some of our neighbours are already starting to treat us as untouchables. I have four children. I was told that some of our villagers are spreading the word that even they might get infected with the virus,” says the father’s sister-in-law. Her husband works at a tea stall.
So far, the GMCH authority has been far from supporting.
The family is being compelled to buy medicines as these are not available at the hospital.
“We have to buy everything, from medicines and saline to even bandages. The hospital people are asking us to take discharge. But I won’t. I don’t know where to go now… how to handle the debt burden on my head,” the father says in despair.
GMCH superintendent BK Bezbaruah, however, claimed that he has sent “signed slips” to the nurses to give free medicine to the victim.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said an inquiry will be conducted into the alleged lapses of the doctors and other staff at GMCH. “Whosoever he or she is, they will be punished if found guilty,” he said.
When pointed out that the treatment expenses of the victim’s family have not been waived, Gogoi said he will look into it.