by The Welthi Bureau | 19 DEC 2017
Latest WHO data shows that nearly 800 million people worldwide spend 10% & more of their house hold income on health care and this pushes almost 100million of them into poverty, out of which almost 1/3rd of the cases happen in India, exposing vulnerability of the present public health system. In the two Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the situation is worse as data shows that average medical expenditure during stay at hospital in urban areas stand at Rs 31242 and Rs 23757 respectively. Similarly, average non-medical expenditure borne by a patient/per day in urban areas stand at Rs 2429 and Rs2336 in AP and Telangana respectively.
While the need to upgrade the public health system is a long recognised need - City based healthcare NGO, Helping Hand Foundation is doing its bit and has launched a new crowd funding portal ( www.PrajaArogya.org ) that will focus on raising funds for poor patients in the state run government hospitals in certain specific areas that is aimed at aiding weaker sections and thereby building public trust in our state run hospitals.
“Since its launch in August 2017, the portal has enabled the NGO to raise funds for 675 Ola/Uber Free Cab services for patients in government hospitals (OGH 155, MNJ Cancer Hospital 200, Gandhi Hospital 110 & All TVVP the Balance) - that helps patients from weaker sections travel to public transport points and different government hospitals for treatment and it also facilitated distribution of 2000 boxes ( MNJ Cancer Hospital 550, OGH 350, Chest Hospital 450, Gandhi 150 & rest others) of nutritional supplements to severely malnourished patients across 16 government hospitals in Hyderabad,” said Mr Mujtaba Hasan Askari, Founder Trustee, Helping Hand Foundation. Enough money was also pooled from well-meaning philanthropists to conduct free subsidised dengue tests for over 500 patients in Govt. Area Hospitals in the span of 3 months, he added. Not surprisingly, both the fee cab services (project Humsafar) and nutritional supplements (project Aahar) for the poor patients in government hospitals were hit from day one.
Social Media becomes gateway to care The Crowdfunding portal which tightly integrates other social media platforms like twitter (@PrajaArogya) & FaceBook (https://www.facebook.com/PrajaArogya.org/) is providing an interface to the good Samritarans who wish to help the downtrodden and the medical fraternity who intend to help poor patients in Government hospitals.
On November 7th 2017, we received a message from Mr. Shyam about a destitute lady on FaceBook. Sick and abandoned, she was struggling to meet her ends and was also very sick as her wounds on leg had turned septic. Very soon, the thread was picked up and the lady was rescued and taken to Osmania General Hospital and treated there for her diabetic foot & later rehabilitated in her home in Lingampally near BHEL (Check thevideo https://www.facebook.com/PrajaArogya.org/videos/173223739928191/).
In another case, Kavitha from KPHB Colony posted a message on the FB page of the portal about a young widowed woman with TB/AIDS living on the footpath along with her children in Miyapur Area - Even though the message was posted on a Sunday, we dispatched our volunteers to the spot and immediately got her admitted in government TB hospital for treatment. Sadly, she expired but we were successful in rehabilitating her four children in an orphanage.
The FB page of our portal will also give Resident /Junior doctors in all state run hospitals to log their request for any deserving and needy patients being treated in the government hospitals - Once we get the message, the request will be assigned to the volunteer in the concerned hospital for immediate action. Requests typically are for blood, investigations & medicines which the patients cannot afford mostly emergency situations.
Going forward we will also try and raise funds through the portal for prosthesis/Implants for Total Hip & Knee replacements for which there is a huge demand from the Government hospitals and presently these implants are not covered under the state Aryogyasri Scheme.
While traction from the general public it yet to gain momentum but a few people at the community level are appreciating the efforts. “The crowd funding platform is a good opportunity to regain public trust in our government hospitals,” said Mrs. Lavaniya of Madhapur, who decided to contribute Rs 500/- from her salary towards sponsoring 3 Free Cab Rides to poor patients in government hospitals every month.
Once its gains momentum and critical mass - Crowd funding could become a powerful Citizens Collective or a public private interface that can provide a platform for the public to contribute to improve the public health system, an idea that has been mooted by the NITI Ayog as well, said Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari, Founder Trustee, Helping Hand Foundation.
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