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Free travel for thalassaemia patients in state-run buses

Free travel for thalassaemia patients in state-run buses

Facility available to patient, attendant only for blood transfusion17 Oct 2019 | 7:38 AM

JALANDHAR: With the inclusion of thalassaemia among 22 disabilities after the passing of the Disabilities Act, 2016, travel coupons are being issued for thalassaemia patients for the first time in the district with which they will be able to travel free of cost in Punjab Roadways vehicles now onwards.

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Aparna Banerji
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, October 16

With the inclusion of thalassaemia among 22 disabilities after the passing of the Disabilities Act, 2016, travel coupons are being issued for thalassaemia patients for the first time in the district with which they will be able to travel free of cost in Punjab Roadways vehicles now onwards.

Thalassaemia patients in the district have expressed relief and happiness on the development. The provision includes coupons for to and fro trip for blood transfusion for a patient and an attendant. With the free coupons, patients will be able to travel for free in buses of Punjab Roadways, PUNBUS and PRTC.

During a meeting with persons with disabilities on September 17, Deputy Commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma had provided the provision of special travelling coupons to thalassaemia patients. He had also urged the railway authorities that accessibility for specially-abled persons to railway transport be ensured.

Demands of patients include provision of free medicines for patients who are shelling approximately Rs 5,000 every month on their treatment.

There are over 100 thalassaemic patients in the district. Of these, 65 are receiving treatment at the Civil Hospital alone. Others are receiving treatment at the DMC, Ludhiana, the PGI, Chandigarh, and other places.

Pawandeep (22), a BEd student who is suffering from type 1 thalassaemia, said: "We had been holding regular meetings with the district administration to press upon free passes. But the meeting was getting cancelled every time. However, after Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur and other districts issued the notification, the Jalandhar DC recently issued instructions to release these coupons."

He said: "We laud the decision, it will ease burden on us. We are spending at least 5,000 every month on blood transfusion and medicines, with tests and transport costs per month even get to Rs 7,000. But with the passes, we won't have to pay for transport anymore. I take treatment at the DMC, Ludhiana, - it's Rs 60 for one side in a roadways bus. On one trip, I spend Rs 180 (to and fro). Now, this cost will be borne by the state. Ten coupons have been issued to me for a month."

He said: "While passes already exist, only for Chandigarh trips, sometimes, conductors deny the facility. Widespread awareness by the government is required to implement the free transport facility diligently."

Interestingly, so far only two patients in the district have taken the coupons. The rest, Pawandeep says, aren't even aware enough.

The procedure

Patients have to show proof of number of blood transfusion trips they have to take in a month. Once the coupons are used, they have to attach proof of the coupons spent (trips taken) with their discharge slip at the Civil Hospital. On the basis of this, new coupons will be issued. Number of trips (in a month) per patient varies from patient to patient, based on haemoglobin count. On an average, every patient requires a transfusion after a fortnight. If tests are required, the number of trips increases.

What activists say

TS Bhatia, general secretary, Thalassemic Children Welfare Society, said: Patients have to be made aware of their rights and procedures. Till now, even awareness hasn't been spread about the initiative. Also, special passes should be issued to thalassaemic patients so that they don't have to approach again and again for a pass. Many of them are from poor families who hardly manage to take time out for transfusions. The facility should be extended to disability certificate holders."

Activist Vivek Joshi who took up the issue in disability committee meetings said: "Its a laudable first step but it should be ensured that every thalassaemic patient avails the same."

Disability activist Amarjit Singh Anand said: "Thalassaemic patients were already included in the category of disabilities after the Act was cleared. Now, the government needs to ensure that the facility is extended and coupons are promptly issued to patients."

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