Continued from: http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/2011/11/whos-jhunu-behera.html
JHUNU - SHE REMINDS OF ALKA TIWARI!
Jhunu’s condition is yet another blot on the face of humanity when
we come to know the plight of Alka Tiwari of Kanpur (http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/2011/10/spineless.html). Suffering
from Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria since she was 12, bone marrow
transplantation costing around Rs 25 Lakh (up from the last estimate of Rs
12-20 Lakh) at CMC Vellore is her only hope. Like Jhunu’s family, Alka’s
family, too, is living in abject poverty and cannot afford the treatment. They have
already sold their house and other properties to meet the ever-increasing
treatment cost of Alka in last nine years.
Like Jhunu’s family, they appealed to the high offices like the
Prime Minister office or the Chief Minister office but didn’t get help.
The resulting frustration led Alka's family to file court plea to order the government
to make arrangements for her treatment or else she be granted Euthanasia. That
was October 1. Doctors have given her very less time and the need for
transplantation is urgent. This is November 28 and she is still waiting in
Vellore for the funds that the central government says has already been
deposited in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, account.
What happened with Alka is inhuman and beyond any perceivable cruelty.
Her court plea to Euthanasia made headlines and some silly politicians saw an
opportunity to gain some (cheap) publicity. One Rajya Sabha MP from BSP called
Alka her sister and announced to donate Rs 20 Lakh for her treatment. That was
October 3. A fake assurance and a silly politician! Nothing came. Why this
breed is so insensitive?
Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, too, came forward to offer
her help. But the uncommon common sense was lacking. When it was so abundantly
clear that CMC Vellore was the only place for her bone marrow transplantation,
she was admitted in AIIMS where the Health Department transferred the required
sum (Rs 20 Lakh). And AIIMS is another hell for poor and resourceless patients
with most of the doctors behaving insensitively and they maintained their
track-record with Alka’s case. After taking her in and wasting 15 precious days
of her life when every passing day counts for her, AIIMS doctors said she had
to leave AIIMS as her treatment would be done at CMC Vellore and that they
would transfer the amount to CMC. That was October 26. Alka left Kanpur for
Vellore on October 28 and since then she has been in Vellore waiting for some
generosity from AIIMS so that her fund could be transferred. Bunch of inhuman
traders – what else can we say of AIIMS after this!
Another aspect of Alka’s case is the lingering court process. We
all know the pace of judicial process in India owing to the huge backlog yet
cases like Alka need special provision. It becomes all the more relevant in the
light of the fact that Alka had directly approached a court with her treatment
cost or Euthanasia plea mentioning she had very few days left if the
transplantation was not done. The court has not reached on any decision yet and
I could not locate any report if any decision was taken by the Kanpur court on November
26 hearing on Alka’s plea to direct AIIMS to transfer the amount in CMC Vellore
JHUNU AND ALKA – WHAT DO THEY TELL US?
Jhunu and Alka – two names that tell us where are we heading?
Why can’t we be sensitive, at least in cases where human life is at
stake and where every moment counts?
Agreed corruption has become a way of life and it would take us time to weed it out but have we become absolutely inhuman?
Delay in positive action by the government and the civil society
in cases like Jhunu and Alka tells only this when their months old pleas to
even the highest office of the country remain unheard; pleas to their right to
live; pleas to their right to have health care in a country that proudly quotes
social orientation of its administration and mixed economy.
That is just the lip service that this political class practices
shamelessly. Health care is in shambles in India. A UNICEF report says one in
every three malnourished children in the world lives in India. In a country
where 64.9 percent of community health centers report lacking
specialists while 68.6 percent of PHCs function with only one or no qualified
doctor, we can easily find thousands of cases like Jhunu and Alka – cases that
need specially trained medical aid – cases that cannot afford the cost of the
treatment. There should have been a war scale effort to correct the wrongs. The
only positive thing has been some of them have started speaking out like what
Alka and Jhunu decided – going to the courts or writing to the higher offices. They got some attention but, as
of yet, nothing concrete has come out.
These two cases may
well be the test cases for the civil society to open a window of legitimate demands in the largely neglected area of
health care rights concerning the specialized health care needs of the economically
weaker sections of the society.
Shouldn’t we expect
some landmark court ruling in Alka’s case to set a precedent?
Jhunu and Alka – the two names that remind us to repeat these
lines again – “Blood is still red. Such incidents should boil
the blood to create instant ripples of reaction! Why do we see such shockers as
mere bystanders? For how long would we remain mute spectators?”