Two in five citizens paid bribes during the Covid-19 second wave health emergency. Caregivers had to bribe to avail hospital admission, bed, ventilator, and medicine, a recent survey by LocalCircles, a digital community-based platform, found.
LocalCircles survey received over 16,000 responses from citizens spread across 317 districts of India.
While hospital administration and other staff were the primary beneficiaries, the survey found that no one admitted paying a bribe to doctors or nurses.
Cases of black-marketing, inflated out-of-pocket rates for ambulance services, oxygen concentrators, medicines required to treat COVID patients were widespread.
Of the people who paid the bribe, 82 per cent did it to get admission, bed, ventilator or medicines, 9 per cent paid it to reduce bill amount, and 9 per cent to get information or visit someone in the ICU.
"The healthcare infrastructure was unable to handle the volume of COVID cases, leaving a fertile ground for perpetrators to take advantage of the situation of caregivers in exchange for money or a bribe," the survey said.
Twenty-seven per cent of the 7,249 respondents said they paid a bribe to a hospital administration staff, and another 28 per cent said they paid it to a ward boy. Up to 9 per cent of the respondents paid it to a "facilitator (local politician or leader, Government employee, middlemen)," and another 9 per cent paid it to a "pharmacy or a chemist".
The LocalCircles survey on black marketing during the second Covid wave conducted in September 2021 found that 13 per cent of citizens were overcharged for the RT-PCR test, while 19 per cent of those who purchased Covid related medicines (Tocilizumab, Remdesivir, Fabiflu, etc.) were charged more than the MRP. Further, 70 per cent of those who needed an ambulance service for a Covid patient during the second wave were also overcharged and half of them paid over five times the price.
About 68 per cent of the participants in the survey were men, while 32 per cent were women. Out of the total participants, 42 per cent were from metro/tier 1 towns, 32 per cent were from tier 2 towns, and 26 per cent were from tier 3 & 4 towns and rural locations.
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