With Lockdown Extension, State Govt Receives Appeals Galore from Citizens
• Several people have appealed to health minister with the extension of lockdown
• These include those stranded outside the state and require assistance for their elderly parents in Assam
• Some are unable to return to the state owing to lockdown
• Others are not being able to afford the cost of treatment at private hospitals
• As per an MoU, private hospitals have been treating OPD patients of govt hospitals
• Private hospitals are facing their own challenges
• Assam govt has also launched a helpline for those stranded outside the state
• It is especially meant for those who belong to weaker sections of society
Ever since the country-wide lockdown was announced to control the spread of coronavirus and now with the extension of the lockdown till May 3, several people have reached out directly to state health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma over Twitter for assistance for various reasons.
Those who have appealed to him for help include people who are stranded outside the state and require assistance for their elderly parents in Assam, those who are not being able to return to the state owing to the lockdown, and some who are not being able to afford the cost of treatment at private hospitals.
In one such example, Dishi Bora tweeted to Sarma about not being able to afford treatment for her newborn who was admitted in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of Pratiksha Hospital in Guwahati.
Bora wrote in her tweet: “Sir I have tried to reach you several times to talk about my babies struggling in NICU of Pratiksha hospital. Please help. At this present time I am really facing difficulty with sufficient funds. I badly beg your attention Sir.”
To this the minister assured that he had spoken to the owner of the hospital and that they would be offered treatment at a concession.
It is to be mentioned that the state government had signed a MoU with 34 major private hospitals and clinics which agreed to lend a helping hand to the government in the battle against the virus. The government hospitals have been readied exclusively for COVID-19 patients.
As per the agreement, the private hospitals have been taking all general OPD patients of the government hospitals from March 28 onwards.
A MoU had been signed for the same, the validity of which is two months.
A total of 34 hospitals will share the load of patients from government hospitals including, Marwari Hospital, Nemcare Hospital, Shankardev Netralay, Sanjeevani, Agile Hospital. Pratiksha, Excel Care, Ayursundhra, Swagat Hospital have also been included in the agreement.
In another instance, a Tezpur resident’s brother was admitted at GNRC Hospital in Guwahati since April 1. He appealed to Sarma on Twitter, “We are not able to afford the cost of treatment money for him as he is a daily wage labourer. His treatment is ongoing at home only but nowadays we are not able to buy medication also so requesting you for financial help.” The minister asked for more details from him.
Further, the private hospitals are facing their own set of challenges as they have been asked to provide free treatment under the Atal Amrit Abhiyan (AAA) and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) to general OPD patients. They are also incurring losses during the ongoing crisis due to coronavirus.
Helpline number launched to assist people stranded outside Assam
Meanwhile, the state government has also launched a helpline for those stranded outside the state.
State health and family minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in a press conference released a helpline number to assist those citizens of Assam who are currently stranded outside the state. The number provided is 9615471547.
It is especially meant for those who belong to weaker sections of society, living below the poverty line, informed Sarma. After verification, the beneficiaries would receive financial assistance by the government.
He added that the beneficiaries would include students whose parents are unable to financially support them, others who are engaged in menial jobs outside the state or pilgrims.
People in need of financial help, who are stranded outside the state during this lockdown can give a missed call on this number.
“After the missed call is received, an automatic voice message will be sent along with the link to a website. People can fill in the required forms with the details and after proper verification by the respective Deputy Commissioner concerned, the financial help will be provided,” said Sarma.
For people who are unable to connect to the internet and do not fill the form in the following 24 hours after the missed call, a group of 400 volunteers will call and help them personally.
These volunteers include students of Gauhati University, Assam Engineering College and Cotton University.
Sarma further cautioned people and asked them to be sure that the call is from Assam government before providing bank details, saying that only the bank account number and IFSC code will be required.
The helpline received around 10,000 calls in the first 10 to 15 minutes of its launch.
Further, the same helpline number will also be used in the near future to help bring back these stranded people.
It is to be mentioned that the financial help will be provided only to the needy section who could not be provided any monetary help from their respective families.
It is to be mentioned that the helpline has already received around 4.32 lakh calls and 2.08 lakh forms have been filled so far.