Caught in red tape, free treat­ment just a prom­ise for acid at­tack sur­vivors

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - FRONT PAGE - Gau­rav Saigal gau­rav.saigal@hin­dus­tan­

Await­ing her 10th surgery at King George’s Med­i­cal Univer­sity (KGMU), Deep­mala isn’t sure if she would be able to come here again for the next stage of treat­ment.

Hav­ing lost her en­tire face, in­clud­ing vi­sion, in a bar­baric acid at­tack by her hus­band here in Fe­bru­ary last, she has since un­der­gone nine op­er­a­tions. In the bar­gain, her fam­ily had to sell off two bighas of land to foot the bills for surg­eries. A bright young woman is fac­ing this trauma in a state where the gov­ern­ment had few months back an­nounced com­pen­sa­tion of Rs 3 lakh to acid at­tack sur­vivors and free treat­ment in se­lect hos­pi­tals.

“I am yet to get a penny,” says the Gonda res­i­dent.

“Dur­ing one of my vis­its to KGMU, I had heard on ra­dio that the gov­ern­ment is giv­ing Rs 3-lakh as as­sis­tance to acid at­tack sur­vivors. My fa­ther did ap­proach the dis­trict au­thor­i­ties who said there weren’t any such pro­vi­sions,” said Deep­mala. “Doc­tors here have been very co­op­er­a­tive and are man­ag­ing things for me but I am not sure how medicines will come next month,” she says while ru­ing the fact that her fa­ther had turned into a land­less labourer from a welloff farmer.

Her monthly ex­pense on medicines needed for heal­ing up of eyes alone is around Rs 20,000. “For the treat­ment of burnt skin, I need another Rs 2,500 ev­ery month,” she says while ex­press­ing her help­less­ness. “With­out medicines wounds won’t heal but could turn worse,” she says. The gov­ern­ment in July had an­nounced that acid at­tack sur­vivors will get free treat­ment (both sur­gi­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal).

Lucknow’s SGPGI, King George’s Med­i­cal Univer­sity, Dr Ram Manohar Lo­hia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sciences and Saifai’s Ru­ral In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sciences were made nodal cen­tres for free treat­ment. The gov­ern­ment or­der was is­sued but the ab­sence of a clear guide­line on man­age­ment of fi­nance for fa­cil­ity is act­ing as a big hur­dle in the im­ple­men­ta­tion.

“The fi­nal fi­nance avail­abil­ity at hos­pi­tal level for treat­ment of such vic­tims is still awaited,” con­firmed Prof Ra­jiv Agrawal, HoD, plas­tic surgery depart­ment, SGPGI. He is also the nodal of­fi­cer for acid burn vic­tims’ as­sis­tance pro­gramme. “We are pro­vid­ing support to such vic­tims at our level un­der the BPL cat­e­gory or other schemes but there is no guide­line from the gov­ern­ment on how and from where the funds are to be man­aged,” said Prof Vi­jay Kumar, who is treat­ing Deep­mala.

“Fi­nan­cial help for the acid at­tack vic­tims is very im­por­tant as re­peated surg­eries need money,” said Usha Kush­waha, founder, Red Bri­gade, the or­gan­i­sa­tion en­gaged in help­ing vic­tims morally.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.