Father Travels with Deceased Child in Bag on Public Bus Due to Lack of Funds for Ambulance; Opposition Questions Government’s Health Insurance Scheme

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In a distressing incident, a man from West Bengal claimed that he resorted to traveling on a public bus with the body of his deceased five-month-old child in a bag, as he was unable to afford the exorbitant fee demanded by an ambulance driver. Ashim Debsharma, the father, stated that his son had passed away after receiving treatment at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri, for which he had already spent Rs 16,000. Facing a demand of Rs 8,000 from an ambulance driver to transport his child’s body to Kaliaganj, Debsharma found himself without the necessary funds. Fearful of being removed from the bus if fellow passengers or staff discovered the situation, he decided to conceal the body in a bag and embarked on a 200-kilometer journey to Kaliaganj in the Uttar Dinajpur district.

The incident has raised concerns over the effectiveness of the Trinamool Congress government’s ‘Swasthya Sathi’ health insurance scheme, with Suvendu Adhikari, the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal assembly and member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), questioning its efficacy. Adhikari took to Twitter, sharing videos of Debsharma’s account and questioning whether this was the desired outcome of the ‘Egiye Bangla’ (advanced Bengal) model. In response, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) accused the BJP of engaging in political maneuvering over the unfortunate death of a child, labeling their actions as “dirty politics. “This distressing incident comes in the wake of a similar occurrence earlier this year in Jalpaiguri district, where a man, unable to afford the high charges imposed by ambulance operators, was forced to carry his mother’s body on his shoulder and walk a considerable distance towards their home. Fortunately, a social service organization eventually provided them with a vehicle free of charge.

The incident involving Ashim Debsharma highlights the dire circumstances faced by individuals who are unable to bear the financial burden associated with medical emergencies and the need for efficient and accessible healthcare services. The issue has sparked a debate on the effectiveness and inclusivity of existing health insurance schemes, urging authorities to address the gaps in the system to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

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