By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, April 24: Dipen Saikia (me changed) has been suffering from gastritis for the last few weeks. On April 12 last, he went for a check-up at the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital (MMCH), an annexe of Guwahati Medical College & Hospital.
Based on his complaints, the OPD doctor prescribed a couple of medicines for immediate relief and recommended an ultrasonography test.
Drugs are supplied free of cost to patients under the tiol Health Mission at the hospital – it is mentioned in the prescription given in hospital letterhead. But Saikia found that the two medicines prescribed by the doctors were not available at the hospital pharmacy.
Saikia then moved to the ultrasonography section. The staff at the section issued Saikia a requisition form, asking him to come on June 2 next for the USG, almost two months later.
A surprised Saikia then asked the staff the reason for giving him a date after almost two months for a simple USG test.
“We can’t help it. There are only two machines and a lot of people are in queue. The doctor has prescribed you medicines. You should get well. If not, come after two months, we will do the tests,” one of the staff replied casually.
A USG test at MMCH costs Rs 400, whereas in private hospitals, it can cost up to Rs 1,000.
Saikia’s experience in MMCH puts into perspective the latest findings by the tiol Sample Survey Organisation. Around 70 per cent spells of ailment in India are treated through private hospitals, according to the NSSO’s new health survey.
The survey, which was carried out during January-June 2014, showed that government hospitals were used to a greater extent in rural areas of Assam (84 per cent). Greater usage of public-sector hospitals in these areas is due to absence of the private sector.
Access to private hospitals is a costly affair. According to the survey, the rural population spent roughly four times for treatment in private hospitals (Rs 21,726 per household) compared to public sector ones (Rs 5,636).