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Home » Sri Lankan expat battles cancer and insurance woes – News

Sri Lankan expat battles cancer and insurance woes – News

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45-year-old Kumara is the sole breadwinner for his family, and with the pay cut, his salary has come down to Dh2,000 per month.

A cancer-stricken Sri Lankan expat in Dubai is struggling to buy medicines as his monthly expenses have exceeded his insurance policy limit.

Forty-five-year-old Gunasiri Kumara, an employee at a Dubai-based restaurant, was diagnosed with skin cancer four months ago. According to Kumara’s medical report, issued by the Advanced Care Oncology Centre, he was  diagnosed with acral melanoma – the most common type of skin cancer among people with darker skin.

Acral melanoma begins as a patch of discoloured skin that gets bigger over time.

The report said Kumara was presented with swelling in the sole of his left foot for four months, followed by swelling in his left groin for two months. He has been undergoing chemotherapy ever since. 

In a matter of months, Kumara was entirely bed-ridden and also had to face a 40 per cent cut in salary owing to the Covid-19 situation. “I became completely dependent on my flatmates and social workers for medicines, transportation and food. My family – my wife and two kids  – live in Colombo,” he told Khaleej Times.

Kumara is the sole breadwinner for his family, and with the pay cut, his salary has come down to Dh2,000 per month.

Support for basic needs

“It started as a small lesion on my leg. Now, I cannot even go to the toilet without support from people,” said Kumara. “I used work as a storekeeper at a restaurant in Dubai. Whatever my company can do to support me, it has. But, it is not enough as certain medicines I need is not being covered under my insurance plan anymore,” said Kumara, adding that he is currently unable to afford his room rent of Dh1,000.

Volunteers of the All Kerala Pravasi Association, an online community group has been supporting Kumara with medical support.  “Kumara’s monthly medical expenses alone reaches to Dh 3000. An ambulance trip to his hospital costs Dh 300. Certain medicines are not covered by insurance either,” said Nishaj Shahul, a volunteer with the association.

Another volunteer Ibrahim Sameer added: “The cancer is spreading across his boy rapidly.”

Though the group has been supporting Kumara since May, the expenses are mounting with each passing day.

An extremely distressed Kumara said, “I need someone to change the dressing on my foot at least twice a week, and I need to buy medicines thrice. It has become impossible to survive.” 



Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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