Irfan Ali’s name will not figure in the list of COVID-19 casualties in India’s capital city New Delhi. It should not. Ali was not infected by the novel virus. However, his sister says had the outbreak not occurred Ali would have been alive today.
Ali, an Oral Cancer patient was refused treatment by multiple hospitals in Delhi including Delhi State Cancer Institute, leading to his death on Saturday.
“Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is responsible for my brother’s death,” Ali’s sister said in a moving video message which was shared by woman activist Yogita Bhayana on Twitter.
“Government hospitals, private hospitals… everywhere we went, we were turned away,” she said.
Ali was diagnosed with Oral Cancer at the Delhi State Cancer Institute a year prior to the lockdown in March this year.
“The treatment at the Delhi State Cancer Institute has suspended arbitrarily, without considering the condition of an existing patient. We tried to get him admitted to several private hospitals but none of them were ready to take him in. When we heard that the government had begun OPD facilities, we took him back to the institute but the doctors were very reluctant. They asked us for symptoms and sent him back with syrup for acidity. What he needs are chemotherapy sessions and what was handed to him was a bottle of syrup,” Ali’s brother Mohammad Aquil, Irfan’s brother told NewsClick three days ago.
“My family is completely dependent on the ration provided by others. We had applied for e-coupons for ration provided by the Delhi Government a month ago but we have not received the ration. I had never imagined that we will go through these days,” he added.
“The government is responsible for his death. The family knocked at every door of the Delhi govt for days and got no help,” Inayat Singh Kakar, a researcher based in New Delhi said.
Inayat Singh has shared a video of Ali’s sister and children raising concerns about the treatment denial on Twitter on 11 May.
“He is in much pain right now. He has been desperately trying to get care. He has turned away from two Delhi government hospitals, without a referral. A private hospital quoted treatment cost as Rs 2 Lakh per day which he cannot afford. Delhi State Cancer Institute has not started chemo/ radiation yet. The system has abandoned him and many like him,” by sharing the video, Inayat Singh said.
“A Chief Minister’s office representative called me today asking that I speak to the family to remove the videos they are posting on social media highlight their plight. Is this really the priority when a man’s life is at stake?” Inayat Singh tweeted today.
“Why has the Aam Aadmi Party govt not used its powers under the Epidemic Diseases Act to ensure continuity of essential life-saving health services to people?” she asks.