By Brij KhandelwalAgra, May 15 : The Agra branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has constituted a five-member committee to look into the flood of complaints and grievances against private nursing homes and hospitals, accused of over-charging and fleecing the victims of Covid-19.
IMA Agra secretary Anoop Dixit said the grievance cell will be headed by former IMA-Agra president Arun Chaturvedi.
During the pandemic, there have been numerous complaints against doctors, mostly due to misinformation and lack of understanding of the problems associated with hospitalisation and treatment, medical experts said.
One area that has caused maximum heart burning and anguish is the general response of the private nursing homes and hospitals, which have been accused of making money from the unprecedented health disaster.
“The private doctors and their outfits have been squeezing the patients, overcharging for medicines, selling beds to the highest bidders.It’s loot and exploitation, but the state government has shown no guts to tackle this issue,” charged a widow of a social activist who succumbed to the virus some 10 days ago.
Those who have means and contacts are getting the best facilities, while those who lack them are left at the mercy of government hospitals, where the conditions and attitude of doctors are far from friendly, according to a large number of patients’ parties.
Meanwhile, in the vast rural hinterland of Agra, trouble is brewing as the number of deaths is reportedly at an alarmingly high.
“Visit any village, it is the same story of deaths and sufferings, though there is no way to get confirmed figures of deaths in the rural areas.But everywhere you go, the scenario is scary,” a village panchayat secretary said.
In Bamrauli Katara village, around 10 km from the Taj city, there have been more than 40 deaths in the past one month.Blame is being attributed to the large public meetings which were held during the recent panchayat elections without following the Covid protocols.
The villagers told IANS that the government health centres rarely open, and no treatment is available for the villagers.“People are thus forced to go to the quacks and ‘Jhola Chaaps’ who give medicines without tests,” a villager rued.
An elderly person, Tula Ram, said that a large number of old men and women had died, as there was no one to take care of them or transport them to the health centres for fear of catching the infection.
To rub salt to the wounds, few dared to perform the last rites of the deceased, as people were scared of touching bodies, added another villager.
“The conditions are pathetic and there is no early hope for respite,” said Sonvir Singh, a young activist of the area.
Earlier on Saturday, the district magistrate of Agra visited some villages, including Barauli Ahir, Nainana Jat, Digner, Rohta and Kahrai, with teams of doctors to create awareness and take stock of the situation.
Teams are now visiting other villages as well after alarming reports of deaths are coming in from the rural belt of Agra.
Three-level committees have been set up in the district to look into the matter.According to the District Magistrate P.N.Singh, for the rural areas, the committees would be headed by the SDMs of the tehsils.Anyone with a problem could contact the committees for help, officials pointed out.
“Actually, the Covid-19 containment strategy has so far remained urban centric.No thought was given to the impact of migrants returning home and later the panchayat elections.Now you see the effects in full fury.It’s difficult to guess the number of deaths in the past one month.It’s a health disaster,” added a local leader, Jagan Prasad.
However, the scene is not uniform, as some areas are still unaffected, he clarified.
“The monsoon rains could make the situation worse.Though primary health centres and sub-units of the extension departments are there, but the staff crunch keeps them shut,” said another rural activist, Manik Chand.