Hyderabad, 17th May, 2017: A significant number of patients who access public health care in the City are from rural areas, with the unavailability of advanced facilities in the districts most of them come to the city for better treatment options and they are the ones who need a lot of guidance and support in the large multi speciality government hospitals in the city said Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari, founder of Helping Hand Foundation, whose volunteers are now part of a support system designed to serve the economically weaker sections for the first time in the history of the public health hospitals in the city.
Badged and uniformed for easy identification, a team of 11 'Prajaaryogya Mitras' a are now seen dotting the landscapes of State run Hospitals, every morning at OGH, Gandhi, NIMS, MNJ, Niloufer, Petlaburj Maternity, Chest Hospital, Koti ENT.
Trained in basic life support techniques each 'Prajaaryogya Mitras' attends to 10 - 15 cases per day and collectively this translates to 50 - 75 in a day, the 3 Help Desk attached to the State run MNJ Cancer Hospital see over 100 patients each, which translates to 300 cases per day, in the year gone by the 'Prajaaryogya Mitras' were involved in saving more than 1000 lifes this from the weaker sections in the government hospitals said Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari, founder of Helping Hand Foundation and man behind this initiative.
The 'Prajaaryogya Mitras' help provide the vital link between the doctor and the patient and this becomes a two way channel - A lot of doctors in the state hospitals are now part of our network who identify and refer patients to us, this ranges from requests for Implants, prosthesis, surgical kits, some costly medicines to some investigations etc.
Prajaaryogya Mitras' also provide bedside assistance to destitute patients without attenders not only from districts but to a host of other patients from the city as well, they also provide logistical support which gains significance as most of these patients are unaware of the hospital settings and find it laborious to move from one department to the other and more importantly the volunteers also identify destitute patients whose medical needs can be defrayed.
Needless to say such measures are helping us build patient trust and confidence in the public hospitals, which otherwise is abysmally low.
Swaroopa, at MNJ Cancer Hospital has been untiringly counselling Cancer patients to give up tobacco and smoking, she counsels tens of patients daily, Sayeed just out of college (MSW) has been working with the recent maternal cases in Gandhi Hospital and helping them get blood products and investigations from outside, Jason Debora has so far rescued more than 6 destitute patients with HIV,TB and Leprosy in the last one month who were left abandoned and helped them move to rescue homes, Wajid at OGH, slept one night with 14yrs old AIDS patients, whose has no family support until the hospital admitted him the next morning, Srinivas attached in NIMS moved a MDR TB couple who were lying at home without food and medicine to OGH and later to Chest hospital, Mannan attached to the MNJ Blood Bank is responsible for encouraging
and counselling patient attenders to donate blood for the Cancer patients apart from maintaining a data base of the donors, which helps him quickly mobilise the blood in emergencies.
With 80% of the patient preferring to visit private health care the others are relentlessly trying to change the mind set of patients and counselling them to leverage the free services in Government hospitals. Take the case of Rizwana begum a 23 years old women, who went into sepsis after a C Section surgery in Niloufer hospital on 27th March, the family shifted the patient to a corporate hospital and unable to foot the bill which mounted to Rs 1.5 lacs in just 3 days after admission, they approached us and our volunteers immediately moved her to OGH - she underwent free medical management and her Creatanine levels are now normal - OGH saved her life and the family from an economic disaster.
Firmly grounded and understanding patient problems as their own, the group is constantly providing feeds i.e. patient related information from their respective ground locations to the head office, from early morning onwards - all the request for relief and financial assistance are later recorded by a team and then by end of the day the relief material mostly medicines and cash are dispatched to the respective hospitals and handed over to the needy patients.
An investiture ceremony was organised to formally introduce the 'Prajaaryogya Mitras' at MNJ Cancer Hospital, where the Volunteer based support system has been functional since over a year - Dr. N. Jayalata Director of MNJ Cancer Hospital & Regional Cancer Hospital, graced the occasion and said the volunteers have been a great source of support to the patients who need timely guidance and logistical support in large government hospitals.
NGO, First in the private sector to employ, a HIV positive as Volunteer 32 years Ramesh (Name Changed), said he was living in despair and hopelessness due to the stigma and discrimination, he has been facing on account of being a Dalit and also a HIV positive person - with 2 children and wife to support, I was jobless after my first employer terminated my services after he found on my table an AIDs Society Card - I was unemployed for more than 2 years now & hailing from a small village near Tandur in R.R. District, I feared discrimination in venturing out to seek a job.
His deep sense of despair resulted in 2 suicidal attempts, being a victim of the system himself, Ramesh understands the trauma and pain much better than anyone else and now has decided to serve the needy & he is part of the team of other compassionate and young volunteers that work with the economically weaker sections in all state run hospitals.
The new HIV Bill passed by the Parliament, couldn't have come at an more appropriate time for Ramesh, who is not only elated and considers this as a new life - With close to 2 lac PLHIV in TS and with half of them in an employable age, it is now important for both the private sector and Government to step up and provide jobs to PLHIV, so that they can live with dignity and respect said Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari, President of Helping Hand Foundation.