Jamshedpur, Sept. 2: If you are not very canine-friendly, make sure you live below the poverty line.
In a pro-poor move that is likely to brew resentment from other sections of the society, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Medical College and Hospital — the lone state-sponsored healthcare hub in the steel city — has reserved its entire stock of anti-rabies vaccine for below poverty line (BPL) victims of dog bite.
Most surprisingly, this decision has not been prodded by any directive from the state health department.
A consignment of some 1,000 vaccines recently reached the hospital after almost a year and sources said only BPL cardholders would be entitled to the treatment, which will be for free.
Hospital superintendent S.S. Prasad, who assumed office on July 19, said the decision was need-based. "The stock is not adequate for all. People living above the poverty line can buy the vaccine from chemists. But BPL victims cannot. Moreover, government hospitals are meant to serve the poor," he reasoned.
East Singhbhum civil surgeon Dipali Dey echoed Prasad. "Though the state hasn't given any directive, the vaccines have been reserved for BPL victims," she said.
Dog bite cases are frequent in the steel city. More than 30 people were bitten in July-August alone. According to Dey, anti-rabies vaccines — priced at Rs 350 — were currently available only at MGM.
So, what happens if a person bitten by a dog cannot flash a BPL card? Will MGM deny treatment?
"I will speak to my colleagues in other departments on this matter. But we will certainly prefer BPL victims," the
hospital superintendent said.
The decision has evoked sharp response from different sections of the society. "MGM should abandon this move. There are people who may not live below the poverty line, but, at the same time, cannot afford to buy a vaccine for Rs 350. Government hospitals are for everybody," said Jawaharlal Sharma, a human rights activist. He suggested that the authorities could divide the stock and make vaccines available to non-BPL victims at a concession.source:.telegraphindia.com