Bhubaneswar: The Covid-19 pandemic has not only proved to be a health disaster for humanity, but the deadly virus also robbed people of livelihood, even pushing many affluent families into acute poverty.
Many families lost their only bread earners and such instances are frequent. There are families which have been ruined financially overnight due to huge medical expenses incurred on their near and dear one's treatment at private hospitals.
Take the example of Smrutirekha Jena, a resident of Barikpur under Bahanaga block in Balasore, who lost everything for the treatment of her Covid infected husband. After being ruined financially, she lost her husband to the deadly virus.
“We sold whatever we had for his treatment. But, he didn’t come back and we are devastated,” said Smrutirekha.
“If government comes to our rescue, we may get some solace from acute loan burden,” a debt-ridden Jena appealed.
Smrutirekha's husband Sanjay had been admitted to a private hospital in Cuttack and later shifted to Bhubaneswar for better treatment. His family had already spent Rs 25 lakh on the treatment.
In the meantime, doctors advised them to shift him to Hyderabad for ECMO treatment which would have cost around Rs 1 crore. Before raising such a huge amount, Bikash breathed his last.
By that time, his treatment expenses had already pushed his family into bankruptcy.
Same is the tale of Tuna Sahoo of Digapahandi in Ganjam. A shopkeeper by profession, Tuna turned almost a beggar almost overnight.
Tuna, who used to earn Rs 300 per day, had to shell out medical bills of Rs 18 lakh for his Covid treatment at a private Hospitals in Cuttack and another in Bhubaneswar.
The Chief Minister's Relief Fund, Biju Swasthya Yojana, Krushak Kalyan Card failed to come to his rescue. He was forced to sell whatever he had earned during his life time. And now he is fully dependent on oxygen concentrator at home.
“We had consulted doctors in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack and spent around Rs 18 lakh which we raised by selling our belongings including landed properties and houses etc. We have nothing now to sustain,” said Sangita Sahoo, Tuna’s wife.
“We are now dependent on others for sustenance as all money was spent on my treatment,” Tuna said.
There are many Smrutirekhas and Tuna-Sangitas in the State, who were devastated by the pandemic.
As per a report, published in the national media, medical bills have pushed around 5.5 crore families into poverty. The government’s share in the medical expenses of patients is also dismal. As per the reports, a patient spends Rs 90.80 from his own pocket out of his/her Rs 100 treatment cost.