NCDs patients struggling to meet out of pocket medical expenses in Hyderabad: survey

Hyderabad: With the lockdown easing and coronavirus (COVID-19) situation supposedly improving in the city, many patients from underpriviliged sections of our society who are suffering from Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs), are now facing a severe financial crunch to deal with the ailments. 

Already in a weak position, those who cannto afford to visit corporate hospitals have been hit hard by job losses and pay as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. Many are struggling to meet out-of-pocket medical expenses for their ailments. Helping Hand Foundation (HHF), a city-based NGO, said that over 550 patients have approached it in the last 30 days for financial assistance with regard to medical emergencies.

A survey by HHF said that 70 percent of patients who approached the foundation for financial assistance were found to be suffering from NCD and were male/bread earners, while the rest of those who sought help were women  and children.

The survey also stated that 85 percent of breadwinners who were interviewed said there that is a loss of income due to prolonged effects of the lockdown and they are finding it challenging to meet their medical expenses. A statement from HHF said that many others also said that there is no support from family members, friends or associates, which has made things more difficult for them. 

The NGO found that the worst the affected segment åre Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients on dialysis who need money for dialysis, medicines, and transport on a monthly basis as they have to undergo regular dialysis 8 to 12 times in a month.  Patients suffering from Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disorder, cancer, stroke, and seizures are also finding it challenging to go for check-ups and for purchasing medicines, said the report from HHF.

“We see a footfall of 25-30 patients approaching for financial assistance daily and our job is to counsel them to government hospitals for free treatment. But only one in three agree to go to government hospitals due to the inherent fear of COVID and lack of trust said,” Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari, of Helping Hand Foundation.