AMRITSAR: Thalassaemia patients in Amritsar have to depend on non-government organizations (NGOs) to meet their expenses on medication as government hospitals have expressed their inability to do so due to lack of funds. Not only are medicines not provided to patients but the thalassaemia ward situated in the children's ward of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital is also maintained by an NGO, Amritsar Thalassaemia Welfare Society.
Thalassaemia is a genetic blood disorder in which the patient's bone marrow cannot form sufficient red cells and their survival is also reduced. Thalassemic patients have to be given blood transfusion every 15 days.
"We organize blood donation camps every now and then and give blood to the government blood bank which ensures that thalassaemic patients are at least never short of blood for transfusion," said president of the society, Satnam Singh while talking to TOI on Saturday. Satnam's son Hargun Singh is also a thalassaemic.
A visit to the thalaessemia ward of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital reveals the sorry state of affairs and the predicament of poor parents of kids suffering from the disease who not only have to depend on NGOs or the thalassaemia welfare society for medicines but also have to arrange for about Rs 1,000 every 15 days which is needed for purchase of certain material and equipment required for blood transfusion.
Sukhleen Kaur, whose son Sukhpreet Singh has been taking blood transfusion for the past nearly seven years said, "There were no facilities available to them in the government hospital," while adding that she couldn't afford medical treatment expenses in private hospitals. "Had the thalassaemia welfare society not been there for our help, things would have been worse," she said.
Anjali whose ten-year-old son Danish is also taking treatment at the thalassaemia ward in the government hospital said it was due to the efforts of the society that electric fittings were made in the room, while adding that even the flooring of the ward was done by the society. She rued that patients were not provided medicines by the government hospital.
Medical superintendent of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital Dr R P S Boparai admitted to funds scarcity with them due to which they were not able to provide medicines to thalaessemics. "Fund crunch is everywhere but we have NGOs like Society Sewa Bharti and Bhai Kanhayya Mission Society who help patients." He however said that they ensured that every thallasaemic patient got the required blood for transfusion. Satnam Singh said that the society had also begun an awareness campaign especially among girls and boys of marriageable age. Everyone getting married must undergo a medical test before to find whether he was a thalassaemic minor or carrier to avoid spread of disease.