Epilepsy patients deprived of free medicine in Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences
Hundreds of poor epilepsy patients were expressing deep agony as they could not get free medicines from the Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences SVIMS for the last nine months
Tirupati: Hundreds of poor epilepsy patients were expressing deep agony as they could not get free medicines from the Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) for the last nine months.
Recognising the importance of the disease which can be found in five persons out of every 1,000 in the State, SVIMS started giving free medicines to epilepsy patients on every third Sunday since 1999 and used to conduct free health camp on the same day.
Patients used to get medicines for three months at a time. They have started organising more than 200 free epilepsy camps at several villages and enrolling patients, who visit the hospital on a regular basis for check-up and taking medicines.
However, from February 2018, hospital authorities announced that free medicines will not be given to epilepsy patients which sent the patients into shock. They used to come to SVIMS not only from the four Rayalaseema districts but from Nellore and Prakasam districts too.
They were agitating every month demanding free medicines. But the hospital administration was firm on its decision and were not yielding to pressure from patients. However, medicines are being distributed free once in three months for new patients.
Patients, who used to receive medicines prior to cut off date, were saying that their bodies were well coped up with the medicines given by SVIMS and when purchased from outside their health was deteriorating and getting side effects. Further, each patient has to spend about Rs 2,000 to 5,000 per month depending on the nature of the disease.
Several people’s organisations also expressed their solidarity to patients and joined in their agitation and they all found fault with the TTD. An association for epilepsy patients’ welfare was also formed to which Nava Samaj Federation, AP Abhivrudhi Porata Samithi (AAPS), Aam Aadmi Party and others have been extending support.
The patients have started relay hunger strike three days ago near the hospital. A round table meet was held on Tuesday in which several leaders participated. On Wednesday, they organised a demonstration and raised slogans demanding the restoration of free medicines. The President of AAPS N Raja Reddy has said that it may cost around Rs 2 lakh only per month which TTD can bear for the sake of poor patients.
Even, private hospitals have to provide 10 per cent free treatment to patients and it applies to SVIMS as well. He said that they have submitted a letter to the TTD Chairman, but the Board has not taken any decision on this. An epilepsy patient from Punganur K Subramanyam revealed that he has been taking medicines from SVIMS since 2003 after which his health condition was improved.
Before that, he used to take treatment at other hospitals which never gave him any relief. “If we go for medicines, the security staff have been scolding us and throwing us out. They were not entertaining old patients anymore. With the medicines purchased outside, my position has gone from bad to worse. SVIMS and TTD have to look into our problems and restore the distribution of free medicines immediately,” he appealed.
A senior official from SVIMS administration, who preferred to be anonymous, told The Hans India that the number of epilepsy patients was gradually increasing, and it costs around Rs 2 lakh for them to give free medicines to all of them. Due to financial constraint, the department concerned has framed certain guidelines to distribute them. Accordingly, new patients might be getting them.
TTD gives only a block grant out of which they have to earmark for this purpose. However, the issue was under consideration and a decision will be taken soon, he averred.