Thirty-year-old Ganga Ram is suffering from multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis. Ram has been shuttling between TB clinic at Lok Nayak Hospital, New Delhi Tuberculosis Centre and Karawal Nagar TB clinic, but he is yet to get free medicines under the state TB programme.
A clerk, Ram earns around Rs 150 daily and has to pay through his pocket to meet his medical expenses, which are around Rs 300 a day. In five months, the medical expenditure, including two stints of hospitalisation, has put him under a debt of Rs 2 lakh.
To get cured, Ram needs at least two years of medication. "I have sold my land for treatment. I am shattered," said Ram of Sadatput Colony."Every time I go to Lok Nayak Hospital, they ask me to buy medicines. I have got myself registered at three TB clinics, but still I am refused free medicines," he said. The one at Karawal Nagar is Ram’s local clinic, but despite registration, he has to pay to get the daily dose.
Similar is the story of Pratyush Dev (named changed), 43, a daily wage labourer from Govindpuri. He, too, has to pay for his medicines. "I have spoken to doctors — both government and private — who have confirmed that I need to be put on MDR TB dosage. But no one gives me free medicines, despite registration," he said. "I have no money for food, how will I pay for medicines?" he rued.
"These people probably don't have a permanent residence. Our clinics are not authorised to provide a patient with a registration number, unless we are sure that he can be tracked during the duration of medication," said Dr RP Vashisth, state TB control officer for Delhi.
Ram refuted the argument saying, "I've a permanent address. I was born and brought up here. They probably sell the drugs they procure under my registration," he said. Dev said, "I’ve been living in this house ever since I was born."