Muscat: What happens if an expatriate blue-collar worker, who lacks proper health coverage and funds, is admitted to a hospital with acute illness?
Will he be able to clear the hefty hospital bill all alone? Will he be able to fly back to his home country before his condition worsens or will he be left to languish in a hospital bed forever? Will the uncertainty end?
Md. Nazmul Haque, a blue-collar worker from Bangladesh, is facing exactly such an uncertainty in an intensive care unit in Badr Al Samaa hospital in Ruwi.
He is not sure about who will help him. He is not sure whether he will be able to fly back home to meet his family.
As he has lost his speech ability following a brain stroke 14 days back, only tears roll down his cheeks and his hands tremble even as his friends wish him a speedy recovery. Nazmul, who was on a 'free visa' status, was somehow managing taking up menial jobs in and around Ruwi.
"On the 1st of this month, while performing his evening prayers, he fell down following a brain stroke. He was rushed to a hospital. He was losing consciousness. The hospital authorities did everything possible to help him. All life saving assistance was provided. Timely action saved his life. But he lost speech and his right side became paralysed," Nazmul's friends said.
Nazmul was staying in a shared accommodation and was only able to earn around OMR90 after all the hard work.
"He used to send the major part of the money to his family. He has four children and a wife. He is the sole bread winner for them. So, when we hospitalised him, we realised that he had not saved a single rial for emergency," the friends added.
According to the medics, even though Nazmul was admitted in a very bad condition, he is recuperating now. "He had a brain stroke. The right side of his body is paralysed. He lost his speech ability. After he showed some progress, we shifted him to the general ward, but then again, he developed breathing problems and pneumonia. So, we have put him back in intensive care unit," the neurologist said.
"With the help of an assistant, he will be able to fly back to his home country in a few days but will have to use a wheel chair. Further physiotherapy and other treatments can be done in his home country," the medic added.
Meanwhile, Md. Sanaullah, a Bangladeshi social worker who is coordinating the situation, said that they are trying their best to raise funds to clear the hospital bills and send Nazmul back to Bangladesh. "We have to send him as soon as possible. We can't leave him to suffer in a hospital bed," Sanaullah said.
Meanwhile, Nazmul's visa also expired three months ago.
"Nazmul is undocumented. But, the embassy will be able to sort out those things and help him. It is not advisable to keep him here and have the hospital bills rising even though we have a small fund to support him," an official from the Bangladeshi embassy said.
Meanwhile, Shaji Sebastian, an Indian social worker, said that there is not much difference in a hospitalised Indian or Bangladeshi blue-collar worker.
"If an Indian blue-collar worker is hospitalised, support from the mission house to clear his hospital bills is rare. In most of the cases, we social workers have to shoulder the responsibility," Shaji said.
"Lack of proper health coverage leads to this difficult situation," Shaji added.
Indians top the list of expatriates in number, followed only by Bangladeshis.
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