Over the last 2 weeks, we had two instances where we were exposed to the stark reality of how poverty affects families, especially when it comes to healthcare.
I shall start with the patient who I mentioned in my previous post on obstetric care.
We shall call her Kkd. Yes, the lady who came in with a hemoglobin of 4.6 gm% and then had a hemoglobin of 2.6 gm% more than 12 hours after the delivery. I just got news from Acute Care that the relatives were able to arrange a pint of blood; almost 24 hours after she had delivered.
Now, the whole question was about the reason why the family never brought her for delivery to the hospital. It seems that she was taken to the place where she had her antenatal check ups as well as to the nearest district hospital. She was turned away from everywhere.
If we had got couple of pints of blood, we would have done off the Cesarian in no time.
I believe that it was the good Lord's providence for her that she delivered normally. And then the family could arrange one pint of blood. Most probably, that is the maximum that they can arrange.
The whole exercise of a Cesarian section with couple of pints of blood transfused would have resulted in quite a financial strain for the family. I realized it today morning when the nurses told me that they did not have money to pay for the medicines. In fact, we had admitted her without any advance.
The relatives had been running helter-skelter to get some decent treatment for this poor lady. The fact was that almost all of their money had been spent paying for transport.
However, while the process of getting blood was on, one of our nurses had caught bits of their conversation and found out that they were in the process of paying a huge amount to buy blood.
In our nearest blood bank, the usual practice is to allot a pint of blood for 350 INR if the relatives are able to donate blood. However, when one cannot arrange a donor, there are processes quite unknown to most of us by which you can buy the blood from elsewhere at rates ranging from 2400 to 4000 INR.
We somehow convinced the relatives to arrange a donor and get the pint of blood for just 350 INR. I'm happy that they heeded the advice.
However, it was obvious that the family had run out of financial resources.
All of us have failed them. From the very beginning.
They had gone to a doctor in his private clinic thinking that they would get the best treatment. He/She had written quite expensive iron, multivitamin and calcium tablets. Which they brought. Instead of 30 tablets for a month, they had brought one strip (10-12 tablets) which was used for 2 months.
They never got clear advice on what needs to be done when she goes into labour. No plan . . .
And even after she got admitted . . . unless our staff overheard the conversation about the blood, they would have spend much beyond their capacity and got the blood, which many a time is of very poor quality.
To be frank, for the poor, there is nothing much left in our country. They are the mercy of anybody and everybody. The question is whether 'the haves' of our country are listening.
Leaving alone the subject of poverty . . . if there is 2 things which could improve maternal morbidity and mortality in this part of the country which is more of a problem for the poor and marginalised, I firmly believe that it is free availability of Iron tablets along with an awareness about the intake of these tablets and the second one - undoubtedly, UDBT.