Social worker Cijo Pullappally stands at the bedside of 65–year–old Anandavally Vishuambharan, along with members of his family. Mr. Vishuambharan suffers from diabetes–related kidney disease and is recovering from kidney surgery. However, his condition has not only caused him great pain but also has devastated his family financially.
The surgery and medicines will cost about 50,000 rupees [$1,125], says Asha Mohanan, his 40–year–old daughter, her arms draped over her mothers shoulders. To help pay for it, we sold all our gold and we are going to sell our house.
How much land do you have? asks Mr. Pullappally. Four cents [247 cents comprise one hectare], replies Mrs. Mohanan. Mr. Pullappally nods his head in
Though only 29 years old, Mr. Pullappally has dealt with similar tragic cases many times before. Thats about half the size of this room. Thats nothing, he explains. Once they sell their home, theyll wind up a destitute family on the streets. This is what theyre facing. It is a heartbreaking situation.
Though of little comfort to the family, they are not alone in their predicament. According to a 2004 report by the World Health Organization, health care–related expenses represent the second leading source of household debt in India.
So many people cant afford their immediate health care needs. People have to spend most of their direct income to pay for treatment, concurs Father Moonjely.
Kerala has an advantage that 50 to 60 percent of the population is middle class. So their affordability level is higher compared to other states, insists the priest. But it is still very much true. A serious illness often ruins a family financially. They often have to sell their properties or get new mortgages from banks, which they cannot pay back.
Fortunately for patients at Lisie Hospital, the institution prides itself in making its services as affordable as possible. Our hospital is already the cheapest hospital in the area. Lisie is known for its affordability, says Father Moonjely. On top of that, we often reduce patients bills — by 10, 20 or even 50 percent. Were a Christian hospital. We stand with the people. We stand for the people.
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Award–winning journalist Peter Lemieux reports from Africa and India for ONE.
Tags: Health Care Kerala Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Priests Socioreligious programs