T Longlong Konyak (right) seen here with his father, Tongna Konyak (left), after the Guwahati Medical College provided Longlong with Hemophilia medicines and treatment free of charge under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Readers may recall Longlong’s morbid condition when The Morung Express first covered his plight at the Dimapur Government Hospital in October 2018. (Photo Courtesy: T Methna Konyak)
Thanks to free treatment at Guwahati Medical College; no help from Nagaland State
Dimapur | May 16
“My brother is doing well for now,” responds T Methna Konyak to queries by concerned people who continue to ask how his brother, Longlong Konyak – a person with Hemophilia – is doing.
From Mon district in Nagaland State, Longlong made a trip to Guwahati Medical College (GMC) in December. The Ambulance service at the Dimapur Civil Hospital declined to go out of State so Longlong travelled by train. He was barely alive when he made it to GMC around 5:00 am.
Methna hopes that one day Ambulance services will be made available in every district hospital in the State, provided at the cheapest possible rate.
Moreover, “Choppers should also be available for emergency service.”
This is a far-fetched aspiration even as Nagaland State continues to deny free medical treatment to People with Hemophilia (PwH) while neighboring states like Assam are stepping in to help marginal Naga families.
By 9:00 am on that day in December, Longlong’s brother reached the Central Pharmacy at the GMC, surprised to be given free medicines.
Excluding tests at nominal rates, Methna discloses, “every medicine was given free of cost by the GMC.” A rare chronic disorder that restricts the normal clotting of blood, just one injection for a one-time treatment of Hemophilia’s effects cost Rs. 7000.
“Free treatment, free medicine under National Health Mission. Where is Nagaland’s share? Why are the poor made to suffer like that, while they are entitled to free facilities?” Methna rues—the family had been denied free treatment and medicines at government hospitals in Nagaland.
A part of the free treatment at GMC was made possible by the Ayushman Bharat scheme. “Though we had the card, it was not activated, so we filled up a form through the help of the Ayushman staff that provided huge support when they heard our case,” says Longlong’s brother.
No such help was forthcoming at the Dimapur District Hospital where Longlong was admitted for days together in October 2018. The Ayushman Bharat office there remained locked with nobody to help patients with due procedure.
Hemophilia ‘not included’
According to Dr. Kikameren Longkumer, National Health Protection Mission (NHPM) State Nodal Officer and Deputy Director for Nagaland State Department of Health & Family Welfare, Hemophilia “is not included” in the list of ailments under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
“The scheme covers only secondary and tertiary care services,” he said while speaking to The Morung Express.
In Nagaland, the Ayushman Bharat ‘package’ includes 1534 number of ailments, informed a member of State Health Agency (SHA).
But the GMC did not take this approach to a family that sustains itself through agriculture. According to Longlong’s family, if the ailment is not listed, “you simply tick on the ‘other’ ailments box in the form and they help you out.”
Once Longlong was found to be Hemophilia positive following tests, the GMC even provided the blood required for the patient free of charge.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, ‘Ayushman Bharat,’ a National Health Protection Mission for the poor and vulnerable, in September 2018. With the promise of health insurance cover of up to Rs. 5 lakh a year, the scheme was launched as a pilot project in Dimapur in August 2018 and throughout Nagaland in September 2018.
Methna feels that “Ayushman Bharat is not fully functional in Nagaland.”
Added to this is a lack of empathy from the State for struggling patients and absence of blood banks in all districts of Nagaland State (only Dimapur has a blood bank with component separation facilities, requisite for transfusion) that forges an impossible situation for people like Longlong.
Need for Hemophilia Society – Nagaland Chapter
Methna also feels the need for active organizing in the form of a Hemophilia Society – Nagaland Chapter, a mutual support group to bring PwH together to create awareness among the public.
“Scarce awareness among our people has led to people dying without so much as knowing the cause,” Methna notes.
He has, thus, brought the issue to the notice of Diethono Nakhro, Nagaland State Commissioner for People with Disabilities.
The Society hopes to open a gateway to provide quality healthcare, education, treatment at affordable cost, with psycho-social support and economic remedy.
Milan Sinha, Secretary, Hemophilia Society – Guwahati Chapter, has assured assistance to form a Nagaland Chapter. This will fall under the Hemophilia Federation India, which currently has a network of 92 chapters across India.
“It will improve the quality of life for PwH in the State,” affirms Methna.