In Bageshwar, Uttarakhand, poor patients are forced, against government policies, to pay for treatment and medication.
In today’s video, Community Correspondent Vipin Joshi exposes the corrupt practices of hospital authorities in the Health Care Centre of Baidyanath. The next health care facility is located twenty two kilometres away, and thus inconvenient for the residents of Bageshwar.
“It is common knowledge that the Health Care Centre is knee-deep in corruption. The situation has only grown worse over the years.” tells Vipin. “Nowadays, the authorities don’t even need to ask poor patients for bribes; they are handed money without having to say a word.”
Primary Health Centres and small scale hospitals set up by the government have been stipulated to provide free treatment and basic medication to all patients. BPL card holder families can, under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (National Health Insurance Programme), avail of inpatient medical treatment of up to Rs 30,000 per year.
The National Rural Health Care Mission, launched in April 2005, aims to “improve the availability of and access to quality health care by people, especially for those residing in rural areas, the poor, women, and children.” Various schemes benefitting BPL people have been launched as part of this mission, including the Janani Suraksha Yojana. Under this scheme, BPL rural women who are pregnant are provided incentives of Rs. 700 for delivering their babies in government hospitals and Primary Health Centres. The government provides free services during pregnancy, and also for the first few months after their delivery.
Why, then, are pregnant women paying for treatment and medication at the Health Care Centre of Baidyanath?
Vipin tells us, “This centre has always suffered some problem or the other. Until a few months ago, there was a lot of absenteeism of doctors, and hardly any presence of female doctors. However, because there are no other health care facilities nearby, the people of Bageshwar have no choice but to use the Baidyanath Centre.”
When asked if there is any scope for change in this situation, he replied, “I’m confident that corruption in the hospital will be put to an end very soon. I have captured footage of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer promising to make an inquiry into the matter, and I shall be following up on him. Hopefully, an honest person will be appointed to monitor the flow of money in the institution, and corrupt practices shall stop.”