Lockdown deals deadly blow to kidney patients

Complaints of lack of transport, police brutality galore

March 25, 2020 12:36 am | Updated 12:37 am IST - HYDERABAD

Several patients of chronic illnesses from city and outside are stuck between the devil and the deep sea, owing to the current lockdown in the State to arrest COVID-19 spread.

By the very nature of their respective ailments, they need to visit the hospital often, but are unable to do so now owing to lack of transport and the overzealous police quick to strike with their batons.

Especially suffering in the current situation are kidney patients requiring dialysis on alternates day. Several on dialysis are bitterly complaining about the attitude of the police against them.

Ramu (name changed), whose both parents were on dialysis, took them to hospital on Monday around 3 p.m. After dropping them, he was returning when the police charged at him and thrashed him. “They did not wait for any explanation before beating. I could not muster courage to go back to the hospital to pick them up, and asked them to come by autorickshaw,” he said.

Even auto drivers were not spared. Manorama, another patient, related her horrific experience when her auto was accosted by the police. “I was travelling from Balanagar to my hospital in Ameerpet along with my mother when the police stopped us. Before I could explain, they started beating the auto driver. I tried to show my nodule-ridden hand, but they were very rude to me. One constable was demanding that I, a patient, stand up and pay respect before talking to his DSP,” she narrated.

Sudhakar (name changed), one more patient on dialysis, was stranded at the hospital along with his wife on Tuesday, as his regular auto driver was thrashed by the police after dropping them off, and never returned to pick them up.

Dialysis is a life-saving procedure for patients with acute, as well as chronic kidney disease (CKD), as it brings down the high creatinine levels in their bodies, say doctors.

“If not for dialysis, fluid accumulation in body parts such as hands and legs can cause distress, and the same in lungs will result in respiratory problems,” said a government doctor.

Apart from kidney patients, others who require regular visits to hospitals are those suffering from leukemia and lymphoma. “Patients suffering from Leukemia require supportive treatment like blood transfusion, antibiotics and therapy besides chemotherapy. Those with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, need chemotherapy. Other cancer patients might suffer from health complications which may necessitate admission into hospitals. This could be decided after consulting doctors. But they might need to travel for the purpose,” said an oncologist at a government hospital.

Several patients from outside travel to Hyderabad for dialysis too, says another senior doctor from a government tertiary care hospital. “We have asked such patients to approach hospitals closer home. For people suffering from cardiac problems and diabetes, we are issuing medicines for a month,” the doctor said.

‘Transport required’

Mamatha, founder-president of the Welfare Association for Kidney Patients, has urged the government to make special transport arrangements for those in need of dialysis. While private transport is a problem owing to the lockdown, lack of public transport is affecting a large number of poor patients, she said.

“Of the 18,000 patients getting dialysis done at about 80 centres in the city, 10,000 are covered by Arogyasri scheme, which means that they all are below poverty line. Lack of public transport affects their health,” she noted.

‘Allowed from today’

Responding to the issues faced by dialysis patients, Special Chief Secretary to the Health and Family Welfare department A. Santhi Kumari said they will be allowed to visit hospitals without restrictions from Wednesday.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao said that if someone has to travel from one place to another due to an unseen emergency, they can dial 100. Officials will make necessary arrangements, including vehicles, he added.

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