No internet renders Ayushman Bharat Scheme defunct; patients suffer

Irfan Tramboo
SRINAGAR, Aug 27: As internet remained shut in the Valley, the Golden Card beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat Health Scheme are facing the brunt as they are not able to avail the benefits of the scheme due to the non-availability of internet services in major Kashmir hospitals.
The patients, who are admitted in various hospitals such SMHS, SKIMS, JLNM and G B Pant Children Hospitals, and are the beneficiaries of the scheme are not able to avail it. To avail benefits, their related documents are to be uploaded, which is an impossible exercise due to the communication clampdown.
For last few days, more than 25 patients belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category had to bear the expenses of treatment alone at SMHS, out of which 10 had to undergo surgeries and they had to get the required medicines and surgicals from the market. On average, almost 5 such patients each throng to the major hospitals of Srinagar for benefits every day, but to no avail.
“When a patient, who is the beneficiary of the scheme, comes to us, we have to upload all the relevant documents on the website and when that is done, we provide the patient with the benefits, but due to the non-availability of the internet we are not able to do that,” said an employee handling such cases at one of the hospitals in Srinagar.
He added that the administration was not doing anything to make sure that such patients are getting their due benefits and are not let out to suffer.
While the scheme has literally become defunct, the result being that the patients, who usually fall in the category of BPL, are bearing the costs of the treatment and the medicines, which otherwise would have been covered by the scheme.
“There is nothing in our hands, we just tell them (the patients) that the internet is not working and that they will have to get the required medicines on their own, such patients are poor and it is usually difficult for them to arrange the money,” a doctor at SMHS told Excelsior.
“We want to help them, but we are helpless, we just cut a sorry figure and tell them to get the things from the market on their own,” said an employee handling the cases under the scheme at G B Pant Children Hospital.
An attendant of a patient-again a beneficiary of the scheme-at SMHS told Excelsior that he had to borrow the money from his relatives in order to make sure that his daughter gets the proper treatment. “They told me that the internet was not working; as she (the patient) was scheduled for surgery, we had to get some medicines and other stuff from the market, for that, I had to borrow the money; there is no use of that card,” said Abdul Hameed.
On the other hand, the Lalla Ded Hospital in Srinagar is making sure that such patients get due benefits of the scheme even as the internet is down. The hospital is keeping all the records of such patients and letting them avail the benefits.
“As of now there are 9 such patients who are admitted in the hospital; as the internet is down, we have kept the records of all such patients and have provided them with the benefits, we will recover the costs later from the concerned agency when the things are back to normal,” Dr Shabir Siddiqui, Medical Superintendent Lalla Ded Hospital told Excelsior.