Citizens for Justice and Peace

Tale of Despair: Patients Living on Pavements Outside AIIMS

02, Nov 2017 | Rajat Mishra

With a large number of patients and a shortage of night shelters, thousands of patients are spending days in the subway of AIIMS metro station or on the pavement outside AIIMS, as they wait for treatment, writes Rajat Mishra, a student pursuing Master in Journalism at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia University.

Not all the stories of courage in India have to do with the act of heroism on the battlefield. There is another kind of courage, which is dour and silent. There are courageous patients outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), who cannot afford private healthcare expenditure and pass months and years living on the roads, metro station and bus stand. They come to India’s premier medical institution AIIMS, with hope that it will put an end to their misery and suffering but here begins the ordeal that often leaves them in a state alternating between hope and despair.

“We are waiting for either a cure or a death”, says 57 year old Roshana Devi from Ballia district of UP, who is awaiting her turn to receive cancer treatment at AIIMS for last one year. She has been living on pavement outside AIIMS hoping to be operated upon someday.

“AIIMS is just like a judicial court. It gives ‘tareekh’  one after the other sometimes after 1 month and sometimes after 15 days ,those who put up with tribulation and attend the ‘tareekh’, emerge victorious” says 52 year old Vakil Ahmed from Bareilly district of UP who is waiting for his next ‘tareekh’ a tad impatiently at the nearby metro station.

But Roshana and Vakil are not alone. According to the 60th AIIMS Annual Report of the year 2015-2016, most of the outstation patients were from UP followed by Bihar, which reflects the dire state of health facilities in two of the most populous states of India. This also reflects the crippling and crumbling health facilities in state governments.

This evocative photo essay captures the daily struggles and resolve of these patients.

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Image Courtesy: Rajat Mishra


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