Bangladeshi patient inflow thins in hospitals of Calcutta
A private hospital off EM Bypass on Friday received phone calls and emails from 42 patients from Bangladesh who wanted to cancel their appointments and admissions.
Another private hospital has witnessed a drop in the number of Bangladeshi patients at the outpatient department from 100-odd daily to around 20.
Calcutta’s private healthcare sector has a chunk of patients coming from the neighbouring country.
India’s decision to suspend visas — except diplomatic, official and work visas — from March 13 to April 15 and the subsequent decision of a number of airlines to stall operations between Calcutta and Bangladesh have led to a dip in the patient footfall at Calcutta’s private hospitals.
Hundreds of Bangladeshi patients and their relatives who are in Calcutta are worried about going back home.
“Bangladeshi patients started disappearing from our OPDs three or four days ago. Usually, we have at least 100 patients a day from Bangladesh. Now, we are getting barely 20,” said Alok Roy, the chairman of Medica Superspecialty Hospital.
The RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Medica’s neighbour, treats more than 6,000 Bangladeshi patients every month at OPD, around 20 per cent of its total patients.
“There could be a sharp fall in the number from next week, when we will start feeling the effect of the travel restrictions,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east, Narayana Health, of which the RN Tagore hospital in Mukundapur is the flagship unit.
Apollo Gleneagles, Peerless and AMRI hospitals, too, treat thousands of Bangladeshi patients every month. Most of them come to Calcutta for treatment of cancer and cardiac, orthopaedic and kidney ailments.
“The earnings of the private health-care units have suffered over the past few years as the state and central governments have come up with several health schemes, under which we have to provide treatment at a very low cost. Patients from Bangladesh are a big source of revenue and they get high-end surgeries and procedures done here,” the chief executive officer of a private hospital in the city said.
Not just the health-care sector, the patients from across the border are a big source of revenue for the city’s hospitality industry, too.
Most patients from Bangladesh come with relatives and friends. They put up in hotels as well as homes around the private hospitals off the Bypass as paying guests.
Surgical oncologist Gautam Mukhopdhyay received a call from a patient in Dhaka on Friday.
“He was suffering from cancer and I had performed a surgery on him. Today, the patient said he can’t come for the check-up. I told him to visit an oncologist in Dhaka and if required, send the reports by email or through WhatsApp,” said Mukhopadhyay.
Romi Akther from Dhaka had come to Calcutta on March 1 for treatment of a cardiac ailment. “We are planning to return on Wednesday but don’t know whether we’ll be able to. There are many like us here and we are discussing our course of action,” Romi’s husband Firoz said.
K.M. Ahmed Shaheen from Dhaka, who is suffering from kidney ailments, came to Calcutta for dialysis. His wife said they were desperate to fly home by Regent Airways on Saturday.
“There is a small complication and we would have stayed back. But given the conditions, we are determined to return tomorrow,” the wife said on Friday.
Regent Airways will operate a flight each on Saturday and Sunday from Calcutta to Dhaka.