Chinagadili, Visakhapatnam District: The deprived sections of society should not be denied access to good healthcare on account of their poverty. This was my father’s conviction which took shape in the form of a pioneering initiative universally called Arogyasri. It was a life-changing scheme which symbolises the finest facet of welfare governance and transformed the lives of lakhs of the needy by giving them access to quality healthcare.
Sunitha, who met me near Adarsh Nagar, sustained burn injuries on her neck, chest and hands in an accident which took place in her childhood. The skin below her neck was so badly burnt that it got fused with the skin around her chest. She could barely lift her head. Her father is a poor rickshaw puller and cannot afford to get treated in a hospital with quality healthcare. Spending Rs.100 on her medicines itself was a challenge. Where was the question then, of spending one lakh rupees on her treatment? She reconciled herself to this situation and suffered indescribable agony for 15 years.
In 2008, she could get herself treated under Arogyasri. Today, she is able to stand on her own strength, after having completed her undergraduate degree course. She told me, her eyes filling up with tears of gratitude, that my father gave her a new life. I cannot describe the joy interacting with her, gave me. There is no greater achievement than dwelling in the hearts of people who have such love and regard for you long after you are no more! There is no higher accomplishment in life.
Northern Andhra is one of the most backward regions of the state. It consists of tribal areas and regions with high population levels of backward classes and economically deprived sections. My father decided to set up the Visakha Institute of Medical Sciences in this part of the state so that super speciality services could be made accessible to the needy. Villagers of Hanumantawaka pleaded with me to save this hospital from the clutches of Chandrababu Naidu who was driving it towards privatisation. A hospital which was supposed to have 1130 beds and 21 super speciality wings was clipped in size and strength to 250 beds. To this day not a single super speciality department has come up and regular doctors and staff have not been appointed.
All these are pointers to privatisation, these villagers fear. It is indeed unfortunate that a government should function in this clearly anti-people fashion so much so that the people themselves want this hospital saved from the chief minister!
I had an interaction with a large gathering of Muslims at Arilova this evening. Members of the Muslim community expressed their anger at the opportunistic policies of Chandrababu. They pointed out how he sailed with the BJP for four years and after stepping out of the NDA was showing fake affection towards the Muslim community.
I have a question for the chief minister —when some innocent Muslim youth sought justice in the Nara Hamara convention for Muslims, false cases were foisted against them and they were booked on charges of sedition. They were dubbed as traitors and anti-nationals. Does anyone who remind you of election promises made in your manifesto become a traitor? Was it a crime on their part to ask you why there was no Muslim member in your cabinet? If those innocent Muslim youth who did not commit any crime or offence are traitors and anti-nationals, what about you who have been deceiving five crore people of Andhra Pradesh with false promises?