A medical officer at a primary health centre in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district has released a video requesting euthanasia -- a medical practice illegal in India. Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending the life of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.
Dr Bharat Maruthi Lote has been battling pancreatic cancer since March and is currently under treatment at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune.
Euthanasia, also known as mercy killing, is illegal in India. The central government had proposed a bill for passive euthanasia — taking the terminally-ill patient off medical support — last year but it is yet to see the light of the day. The Centre, however, has allowed passive euthanasia on humanitarian grounds to terminally-ill patients in rare circumstances.
Dr Lote has been working as a medical officer for the last 26 years in Rampur village in Ratnagiri district's Chiplun taluk. When his cancer was diagnosed, his family immediately took him to the hospital in Pune for treatment. However, the likely course of the medical condition or prognosis was grim.
"The doctors said that the chances of recovery were slim, but I held onto hope," Dr Lote's wife Sangita told Mid-day.
The medical officer has had three surgeries costing Rs 29 lakh performed on him since April. He withdrew Rs 3 lakh from his provident fund, while his wife collected Rs 11 lakh by mortgaging their house and jewellery and another Rs 10 lakh by borrowing from friends.
Sangita has been visiting the office of the state health department twice a week to convince them to release his salary his advance, but all her efforts have been going in vain as there has been no response from the department.
"For the last two-and-a-half months, my husband has been in the intensive care unit. He was also put on the ventilator at one time... I visit the health department office twice a week in the hope of convincing them to release his salary in advance, which is a norm in the department," Sangita told Mid-day.
However, problems for the doctor and his family seem to increase with lenders now asking them to return their money. In an attempt to end all troubles for himself and his family, Dr Lote released a video on June 8 which shows him pleading for death and highlighting the poor financial condition of his family and the department's alleged indifference.
"The government is not helping us out. He devoted his whole life to serving the poor in a small village. He was even awarded two state honours -- the Na Dho Karve Award and the Ahilya Joshi Award. This is how we are being repaid," Sangita said adding that the family approached a lawyer so that a petition on euthanasia could be filed and submitted to the Bombay High Court. "We hold the health department responsible for pushing us to take this decision," she says.
Satish Pawar, director of Directorate of Health Services, told the paper that he wasn't aware of the request for early disbursement of Dr Lote's salary. "But if the request is as per the norms, we will disburse the amount soon," Pawar said.