Emmaus International

Moon Sharma, Director of Tara Projects, examines the privatisation of healthcare in India and its impact on the most vulnerable, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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"Twelve weeks have gone by since the lockdown began in the wake of COVID 19 crisis in this part of the world. This has severely affected our lives. It has been very severe for the poorest. The lockdown has drastic economic and social repercussions. Poorest have lost their livelihood, dignity and have hardly access to food and health. The existing inequalities had never been so visible as witnessed during the last several weeks.

We had to temporarily close our Mutual Health Care Center abruptly, due to the lockdown. These have been trying times for the mutual health members, more, when they needed the support. Unfortunately, there was no choice than to close it due to strict rules and inadequate available safety infrastructure.

The situation continues to be difficult. The divide between the rich and the poor is more open and visible. To meet the demand, state had to convert many existing government general hospitals into Corona Specific. It deprived the common persons from receiving general medical support. It resulted into deterioration of health for thousands of ordinary ill people. Unfortunately, many could not recover, and it continues...

Ironically, the private healthcare providers exploit the situation focusing on profits and providing treatment to the rich. They charge thousands of Euros unethically. These hospitals are beyond the reach of ordinary persons. This is the reality of an unjust health system.

The truth is that even the facilities created for the COVID-19 patients in hospitals are inadequate and unsatisfactory. Here too, the victims are the poorest. It is very difficult for the poor people during these critical times.

The current situation, sadly, has taken away many precious lives. We are deeply anguished on the unfortunate demise of Nandini, a 12-year-old, bright girl, an education sponsorship child. Her precious life was lost due to deprivation of urgent medical attention from the doctors / hospital. She suffered from high fever complications. Nandini became the victim of the unjust health system, with no dignity and voice of the poor. Being a part of the Emmaus movement, we feel that this appalling situation, needs to be challenged and changed. We have to act collectively and look for new alternatives, accessible to all.

Mutual Health organization initiated in India and Bangladesh in 2009 with the valuable support of Emmaus International, is a meaningful alternative for the poorest. An alternative that has given the mutualists since its beginning, access to affordable medical treatment, awareness and dignity."

Moon Sharma
Director of Tara Projects (India)