Monday, 22 October 2007

The inhumanity of it all

One of the things we believe in is using the government health system as much as possible.

But it can be so heart-breaking.

We are grateful that our government now provides free Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) to people with HIV whose immunities are low.

But the process of accessing the treatment can break the spirit.

One of our long-standing patients came in today. She and her brother and sister-in-law had made the long trip to Sion hospital in Mumbai for her ART. She was not feeling well - has been vomitting for 2 weeks and suffers from incontinence.

The took the train - the crush - in her sick state.

When they finally got to the hospital - they were told that: "All the doctors have gone to a seminar. Come back in one and a half months."


Even if this dear lady misunderstood what was told her - and that is unlikely given that both her brother and his wife were with her - and they are sharp people. Even if there was a miscommunication - surely this lady has just received a death sentence?

Come back in one and a half months.

The inhumanity.

Come back again.

As if this lady is coming on a lark. As if this is the only thing she enjoys doing - dragging herself off to Sion in her incontinent state only to be refused.

Refuse-d. And treated like refuse.

This is where our participation in the public health system breaks apart.

There are many other pathetic stories that we could tell. But we won't. Many lives are not here because of experiences like our friend had today.

Why should she go back? Even though she may be getting the correct medicine - its clear that just getting drugs is not going to save this lady.

How to change the system? What should we do?

Protest? And waste days running from pillar to post trying to find the responsible person?

Set up our own alternative system?

Gnash our teeth and carry on?

Pray? Cry out with anguish for our dear friend - and so many other nameless, faceless poor who have to put up with this because they do not have money to pay the private medical sector?


One thing is for sure. He who sees all will set all things right. Every person involved with the rot that we see around us will one day have to give account. Lord have mercy. Literally.

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