Nobody's people in Jafarabad

Located in one of the forgotten corners of  northeast Delhi is an unauthorised settlement called Jafarabad. With its dilapidated infrastructure, poor civic, water, sanitation and negligible healthcare facilities, Jafrabad is a place no one wants to acknowledge, save for the beleaguered residents.

There are problems galore, and remarkably the residents have stoically accepted their lot, even making do with what little they have. But of greater concern for them is the lack of proper healthcare facilities in the area. Given that the nearest hospital for Jafarabad residents is three kms away at Shastri Park, people here have started consulting “quacks, maulvis, jhad phoonk and babajis for their health-related problems,” Faizal Nawaz, a resident tells Metrolife.

In medical parlance ‘idiosyncrasy’ means ‘an abnormal physical reaction by an individual to a food or drug’. In Jafarabad many have such reactions to the medicines of Roshan Lal Aggarwal, a vaidya who sits at the Hanuman Balaji Mandir, Vivek Vihar and cures people with his so-called ‘natural’ medicines.

“His medicines include two golis and ek cup chai,” says Faizal Nawaz, who once took his ailing brother there as his mother insisted on consulting the vaidya and no one else.
Nawaz says relatives hardly get any information about Aggarwal, as only the patient is allowed to enter his room. He also says that it is a dangerous trend as “These people charge nothing for consultation and therefore gather the attention of poor people. The trend starts when one person out of 10 apparently gets better after these ‘natural’ medicines and spreads the word. But the ones like Aggarwal, give no information to the patient about the ailment he is afflicted with,” says Nawaz.

Nawaz’s brother, whose stomach ache persisted, despite the vaidya’s medicines, was later taken to a hospital and diagnosed with kidney stones.

Aggarwal is probably the only one who is not a ‘certified’ doctor. The so-called ward for ‘natural treatment’ in the temple has some other people, who claim to be doctors and have ‘Dr’ added to their names and numbers. Numerous attempts by Metrolife to meet Aggarwal proved futile as the gentleman “is unavailable to meet anyone without medical reasons.”

After his brother’s incident, Nawaz organised a free health camp in his office in Oonthwali Gali in Jafarabad on June 14. It was called a ‘Stone Free Drive’. “People here are extremely poor, I wish I could base lack of education also as a reason for their naivety and ignorance. But my parents are educated but yet they preferred that vaidya over a doctor,” explains Nawaz.

The ‘Stone Free Drive’ was supported by Tirupati Urology and Laparoscopy Hospital from where Dr Azhar Aziz (general physician), a nurse, a ward boy and an executive were present to help the people who came with their ailing family members.

Dr Aziz says, “Stones can be cleared with drinking a lot of water and also at times require operation. After the stones reach a minimum size they cannot be egested out. People here don’t know what is ailing them. I also checked a one-and-a-half year-old boy with hernia.”

In Jafarabad it seems people don’t ask themselves why their stomachs, head, or body ache. They don’t entertain thoughts of fatal diseases as they know well that they cannot afford a hospital’s bill. Not surprising that the people who visited the one day health camp were only there for a free health check up.

Though the drive was especially designed for patients suffering from problems in the urinary system, hernia and stones, which Dr Aziz says is “common in meat eaters”, but at end of the day one realised that amongst those who visited the camp many also suffer from neurological problems. One such case was of 13-year-old, Hamza Ansari. Since seven years of age, Ansari was suffering from frequent blackouts and collapsing. His parents said they knew nothing about this illness. “The doctors in the big hospital (Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital) just give medicines which keep him stable for irregular time periods. Then we again have to rush him to the hospital. I just want to know what has happened to him,” the parents told Metrolife.

Through this health camp, Ansari and many like him have been provided free consultation and check up at the Tirupati Urology and Laparoscopy Hospital in Gagan Vihar.

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