Bangaloreans deprived of free treatment for H1N1

The City’s designated ‘government’ hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) has been charging patients for test and bed charges while government hospitals in other states provide these facilities free of cost.

Here’s a case: A family of four, including two relatives, were tested positive for H1N1 flu and were admitted at the RGICD. One of them complained that he was even charged for the testing at the Institute. “We don’t mind paying for the facilities, but we are charged for nothing. The Institute did not have proper toilets, drinking water and the food supplied to us was from the roadside,” he said.

He and his family were reportedly charged Rs 18,000 by the hospital for six days, although the conditions were far from their liking.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, apparently, was not even aware of this. When Deccan Herald spoke to the Ministry’s Joint Secretary Vineet Chawdhry, he said: “The Centre is providing free treatment to all the suspected and positive patients of H1N1 flu. I am not aware of the patients being charged in Bangalore. Most of the decision related to health can be taken by the State government,” said Chawdhry.

Government hospitals in Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad are clearly not charging patients for H1N1 treatment. According to Dr Cheluvaraj, Joint Director, Communicable Diseases, RGICD, is an autonomous hospital and is charging patients for their facilities. Incidentally, the director of the Institute makes all the decisions concerned with the RGICD.

The Institute’s Director, Dr Shashidhar Buggi is clear that the RGICD will charge patients depending on the patient’s affordability.
en cases where we have admitted the patient and have not charged him a single penny.”

Dr Buggi further added that the RGICD has been promised aid from the Centre and if the Health Ministry gives guidelines not to charge the patient, the RGICD will follow the guidelines.

The Victoria Hospital was asked to create a separate 'H1N1 Flu ward' in two days. Here too, the treatment is not free. Medical Superintendent Dr B G Tilak said, "Yes, we charge a very nominal amount of Rs 500 per day in our hospital. I was not given any aid from the State or Central government while creating the ward". 

He said the State Health department was not supplying enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and N95 masks, "I have to compensate and buy from the hospital fund", said Dr Tilak.  































Clearly, there seems to be a communication gap between State, Central government and heads of the designated hospital about treatment to H1N1 flu patients. Apparently, everyone is following different rules in different places.

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