Vijay Sampla, union minister of state for social justice and empowerment, and Barjinder Singh Brar, chairman of the Punjab Health System Corporation (PHSC) visited cancer-hit Mari Mustfa village under Baghapurana subdivision in this district on Saturday and listened to the grievances of the residents.
They also checked the entire record of the health department regarding hepatitis C and cancer patients of the village. Interestingly, local MLA Maheshinder Singh Nihal Singh Wala was conspicuous by his absence.
Both assured the residents that the Punjab health department would provide medicines to the patients and a new survey will conducted about the suspected patients of hepatitis B, C and cancer in Mari Mustfa and nearby villages of Sangatpura, Maur-Nau-Abadi, Vairoke and Thathi Bhai villages.
Sampla said, "During the survey, the health department will find out if the problem is in Mari Mustfa only or other villages are also affected. However, the residents should also take precautions on their own as well."
The Union minister further said, "As per the health department's record, 77 people died in Mari Mustfa in 2014. While 61 of these deaths were reported to be natural, 12 people died of cancer and two of hepatitis-C."
Social worker Dr Gurtej Singh, who has been campaigning for the treatment of the poor patients, told Sampla that the local officials of the local department are not paying attention to their problem.
"The health department clearly said to the villagers that the department has no sufficient funds for testing blood samples of hepatitis C patients. Therefore, we feel helpless at the moment," said the social worker.
Barinder Kaur, a resident of Mari Mustfa, told the minister that she and her one-and-a-half-year-old son Anandjeet Singh have been suffering from hepatitis C.
"I am not able to buy costly medicine of this disease, but when I approached the local health officials, they completely refused to entertain my request for treatment at the government hospital," said Barinder Kaur.
Barjinder Singh Brar said that the PHSC has decided to provide injections to the patients of hepatitis C at the controlled rate of Rs 4,200 per injection against the market price of Rs 17,000 per injection.
"The district administration has prepared a proposal for laying sewerage pipelines in Mari Mustfa. The work of the sewerage project will be started soon," said Brar.
Prominent among those who were present on the occasion included Moga deputy commissioner Parminder Singh Gill, Sukhwinder Singh Brar, SAD leader and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member Gurmail Singh Sangatpura.