Fifty-year-old G R Pardeshi was slated to undergo an operation at a private hospital located in the heart of Latur city. He dithered after being told that the total cost would run up to Rs 60,000. However, when he approached the government hospital in the city, doctors promised to conduct the same surgery for much less.
“I finally decided to postpone the surgery as the doctors at the private hospital told me that there was no emergency and the ailment could be managed with medication,” he said, adding that “who wants lose money in today’s worsening situation. I will better use it to buy barrels of water for my family”.
But he is not the only one who’s letting drought conditions interfere with his healthcare decisions.
Dr Kalyani Barmade, secretary of the Indian Medical Association, said, “Patients like Pardeshi are either postponing their surgeries or are rushing to government hospital where they can get the operations done without disturbing their home budget, which has been wrecked by severe water shortage as citizens have been forced to buy water from available sources.”
Meanwhile, civic officials said that around 15,000 private borewells located across Latur city were depleting fast.
“Surgeries in private hospitals have come down by 30-50 per cent. My own hospital has seen 30 per cent drop in surgeries…People are going for surgeries in private hospitals only in case of emergencies,” added Barmade.
Data available at the Government Medical College hospital in Latur showed that the hospital saw only 3081 and 3021 minor and major surgeries during the first three months of 2014 and 2015, respectively. However, in first three months of 2016, the surgeries shot up to 3854. The figure, sources said, even took the government doctors by surprise.
“Compared to the last two years, the figures of surgeries this year so far are significant in view of the drought situation. It shows people want to hold on to their money and look for options where they can undergo surgeries at cheaper rate and save money for the future…,” said Girish Thakur, deputy dean at the government hospital.
Dean Ashok Shinde said that while water supply to the hospital from Latur Municipal Corporation was cut by 50 per cent, the surgeries had not been impacted because of help from several NGOs, who were providing water free of cost. “A major surgery doesn’t cost more than Rs 200, and a minor surgery Rs 100,” Shinde added.
Private hospitals rubbished allegations that people were shying away from them as the cost of buying water was being passed on to patients. “My hospital purchases water worth Rs 50,000 every month, but we have not hiked our rates even by one paisa,” said Dr Verma. He refused to comment about other hospitals.