Mohammed Ali Shabbir

Make Covid testing, treatment and vaccination 100% free, demands Congress

Hyderabad, April 10, 2021: Former Minister & ex-Leader of Opposition in Telangana Legislative Council Mohammed Ali Shabbir on Saturday demanded that the State Government make testing, treatment and vaccination of Coronavirus completely free.

“Despite alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, a majority of people were still reluctant in getting themselves tested. This is not due to fear, negligence or lack of awareness. But this is primarily due to commercial reasons. There are a limited number of government testing centres and it cost about Rs. 800 for Covid-19 test for an individual. This is not affordable for the common man,” Shabbir Ali said in a media statement.

Shabbir Ali pointed out that the majority of people in Telangana was poor with nearly 40 lakh people depending upon Aasra pension of Rs. 2,000 per month. “There are not enough government centers across Telangana for testing and vaccination of Covid-19. Therefore, a majority of people are dependent on private labs or hospitals due to easy accessibility. However, they are unable to bear the cost of both testing and vaccination. For instance, if there is a family of five persons with mild symptoms and if they wish to undergo the test, then they will have to spend Rs. 4,000. Similarly, for vaccination at a private hospital, they will be forced to spend Rs. 1250. For this reason, a majority of people are avoiding tests and vaccination. Therefore, the government should make testing and vaccination 100% free at all the places and it should reimburse the cost to private hospitals later,” he said.

He said that the amounts of Rs. 800 for testing and Rs. 250 for vaccination for an individual may sound affordable. But their value in the present crisis can be understood from the fact that the State Government has recently decided to give assistance of Rs. 2,000 per month to private teachers. “If the State Government thinks that a private teacher and his/her family could survive for a month with just Rs. 2,000 and 25 kg rice, then imagine how the same family will be able to afford Covid testing, treatment or vaccination?” he asked.

Further, Shabbir Ali said that the treatment of Covid-19 has remained unaffordable for all sections of society. “Many corporate hospitals are allegedly looting the people in the name of Covid-19 treatment. The State Government has completely failed to monitor the organised loot by corporate hospitals and did not set up any mechanism to check their exorbitant billings. A high-level committee was formed last year to probe into the complaints of exorbitant collection by private hospitals in the name of Covid treatment. As against nearly 5,000 complaints lodged against corporate hospitals, the action was taken in just 2-3 cases by barring them from Covid-19 treatment. No penal action was taken against any corporate hospital for extorting huge amounts from the people in the guise of Covid treatment. With the increase in the number of Covid cases, many corporate hospitals have resumed their loot,” he said.

Therefore, Shabbir Ali demanded that the State Government make testing, treatment and vaccination of Covid-19 100% free. He said that Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao must review the situation on daily basis and ensure that top priority is given to saving people’s lives. “No project or scheme can be more important than human lives. The State and Central Governments should do everything possible to save all the lives,” he demanded.

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