Marupooru, Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore District: This morning, on my padayatra, I met a mother from Chatagotla whose suffering was indescribable and filled my eyes with tears. She had a 9-year-old son, Madan who suffered from chronic blood cancer and was battling death. The entire family have come together to help this child and their effort can only be described as a yagnam. In other words, all of them have to sacrifice their time and precious money to help the child survive on a day-to-day basis.
Shockingly, the doctors at the hospital in Nellore told them that Arogyasri was not valid in Andhra Pradesh and the same logic was put forth by hospitals in neighbouring states as well!
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The poor woman told me that the cost of medical treatment was estimated at 8 lakh rupees and that even if she were to sell her house and everything that she owned, she would not be able to match this requirement. “Who do I turn to?” she asked as she wept.
Arogyasri is circumscribed in such a way that chokes the life of a common man, making his life miserable. Mr Chandrababu, how would you answer these questions posed by the poor woman? Had there been a medical facility for the treatment of cancer locally, it would have provided great relief to the poor residents of this place.
As if by coincidence, members of the managing committee of the Nellore cancer hospital came to me and told me that post bifurcation, a cancer centre had been allocated to the district, but it never took off because of the negligence of the state government.
Driven by the selfish objectives of some ruling party bigwigs, the cancer hospital might get shifted to some other district, they fear. Should the poor give up all hopes of living if they were to be afflicted with cancer?
A short while later, a group of senior resident doctors approached me and said that the TDP government was very unjust towards them and in the name of certain regulations, cut their honorary allowance. Even that allowance was not being paid to them for the last seven months, they complained. They pointed out that across the state, senior resident doctors had gone on a strike but it seemed to have little effect on the TDP government.
Is it not the government's responsibility to fulfill the just demands of the resident doctors? After having met doctors and students today, I am even more convinced that the Chandrbabu Naidu government offers mere lip sympathy towards them. Isn't this patently unjust?
I have a question for the chief minister. Education and healthcare change the lives of individuals and by extension, society. Who will the poor turn to if both these critical sectors are neglected?