medical nightmare.. another tale of 2 indias

A recent national magazine wrote extensively in its latest issue about the medical boom that India is experiencing these days. Super speciality hospitals with seven star luxuries and helicopter to cart you to and fro! Seems we are now at par with the most developed countries Never mind if all this comes at a whopping price. There are many who have more than required! But that is one side of the coin. Let me tell you the story of Mollika.

Mollika is one of our creche teacher. She is a quiet and dedicated soul who does her work with utmost diligence. She never misses a day, never complains.. the perfect teacher. Last month she took ten days off as she was unwell. She came back looking pale and tired but git back to work without a whisper. Only her smile seemed to have been lost somewhere. A few days later her sister who works for me told me that Mollika had been diagnosed with a TB infection that was not infectious but required long term medication. Like all Indians she had gone to the Government hospital where all tests had been done and she had been given a long list of medicines she had to take for six months. The tragedy was that for the past four months her husband had lost his seventeen year job and they had finished their meagre savings. Being extremely proud people they had told no one about their plight and hopes against hope that the husband would find a job.

Mollika took her prescription to the chemist to purchase her medicines but came back empty handed. The cost for one month was an astronomical 4200 rs, more than her salary. She just bought a week's supply. That was all she could afford. Now TB is under a WHO programme that is well advertised and called DOTS or Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) for the Treatment of Tuberculosis. Millions have been spent to promote it. Through DOTS patients can get free medication under supervision. Seems almost miraculous but the ground reality is not quite that. First of all Mollika should have been told by the Safdarjung Hospital to join the programme. Instead she was handed a prescription and asked to purchase the medicines form the open market. She should have been informed about the necessity of taking medication for six months and the consequences if she did not. She was never told anything. She should have been informed about the DOTS programme. She was not.

When Manu got TB and was almost dying we tried to get him into the DOTS programme. But in spite of our explaining to the doctors and health workers that he was in no stage to move, let alone visit a centre four times a week, they were adamant and would not budge from their position. That is maybe why DOTS is not as successful as it should have been. We had no option but to purchase medication from the market. We have bough one month's supply for Mollika. We will try and get her registered in a DOTS programme but I am a bit skeptical! Let us see how it goes.

For Mollika and the likes of her there are no super speciality hospitals... wonder if that will ever happen. Till then we can only do our little bit.

Mollika has two teenage school going kids. Sghe needs all the help we can give her.

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