Why the survivors of India’s brutal second Covid wave are left with crippling debt

India’s underfunded free public healthcare system has collapsed during the pandemic and corporate private hospitals, loan sharks and black marketeers have stepped in to fill the gap, as Rituparna Chatterjee reports from Delhi

Sunday 13 June 2021 14:30
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<p>From L-R: Journalist Harishchandra Dhaware, his daughter Vishakha Dhaware and wife Jayashri Dhaware</p>

From L-R: Journalist Harishchandra Dhaware, his daughter Vishakha Dhaware and wife Jayashri Dhaware

As Harishchandra Dhaware, a small-town journalist from India’s heartland, was being wheeled into the intensive care unit in March this year, his wails filled the corridor — “Don’t take me to ICU. If I am to die, I want to die at home. How will you afford this? Don’t spend so much on me.”

“I can see the day in front of my eyes. He kept hitting himself in the face and wailing as they put him on a stretcher and took him away,” his wife, Jayashri, says as she recounts to The Independent one of the last memories she has of her husband.

Dhaware, 48, died inside the ICU of a private hospital in Solapur, Maharashtra, on 6 April after a 15-day battle with Covid, combined with mucormycosis, or black fungus, that damaged his eyes and kidneys and caused memory loss.

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