5-hour travel for medicine

5-hour travel for medicine
HEALING TOUCH ELUDES HAEMOPHILIACS: Patliputra Medical College and Hospital in Dhanbad is yet to use a fund of Rs 10 lakh to procure key blood-clotting protein for haemophilia A patients. Picture by Gautam Dey

Dhanbad: People in the coal capital and its adjoining areas who suffer from haemophilia – an inherited genetic disorder that impairs the body’s ability to make blood clot – are being compelled to travel 165km to Ranchi for basic treatment.

Reason: state-run Patliputra Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) here has no stock of Factor VIII, an essential blood-clotting protein the deficiency of which causes haemophilia A, a state of increased internal bleeding that usually affects men.

Santosh Kumar Jaiswal, state co-ordinator of the Haemophilia Society of Ranchi, did not hide his disgust over the state of affairs. He said PMCH was provided Rs 10 lakh for the medicine under a government scheme last year, but the funds were lying unused.

“At least eight to 10 patients visit the haemophilia treatment wing of RIMS every day; out of them three to four are from Dhanbad and its adjoining areas such as Giridih, Jamtara, Dumka and Pakur. All these people are from economically backward sections of the society and coming to the capital for every infusion is not easy for them,” Jaiswal said.

Ganga Ram (36), an assistant manager with BCCL and a resident of Garden City in Dhanbad, said he was among lucky patients who could afford the five-hour travel.

“Not everyone can. They have both physical and financial limitations. I have a moderate form of haemophilia. Those who have the severe form, for them FVIII infusion should be immediate. They cannot endure a long travel. The delay in treatment can handicap them forever,” the BCCL official said.

Jaiswal said since the anti-haemophilia factor (FVIII) was not available in the open market, the society had approached the government for allocation of special funds to PMCH and that was granted.

“But, the money is lying unused. No medicine has been purchased. Had the PMCH utilised the funds diligently, the health department could have been pressed for more funds to benefit more patients in remote areas. The medicine (FVIII) that is provided free to patients costs between Rs 35,000 an Rs 70,000 a week in severe haemophilia cases,” said Jaiswal.

Hospital superintendent P.K. Sanyal conceded that the funds were lying unused and said the delay in tendering process had led to non-procurement of medicine. “The tender was floated thrice and every time, only a single agency turned up. So, we have now decided to give it the contract. The anti-haemophilia factor will be in stock very soon,” Sanyal said.

The PMCH superintendent stressed on the need for more awareness to combat the disease. “At present, 550 people are registered with our society. The number should be more than 3,500. So many people are unaware of the disorder, which prolongs their sufferings,” he added.