Jaipur: Patients registering for treatment at Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Medical College and several hospitals attached to it here are allegedly being asked to state their caste and religion to avail treatment and other services at the hospital, said reports on Friday. (Also read: 20 Children Take Ill After Eating Mid-day Meal in Andhra Pradesh)

The hospital authorities claim it is to help create a database of population-specific diseases, said a daily.

Hospital Superintendent Dr DS Meena said, “This information is essential for clinical studies related to specific diseases. This helps in planning at every level for research and treatment as well.”

He added, “Such figures will help in research works and medical studies. Like, in Hindus, penile carcinoma is more common, while among Muslims, arthritis is common. Also, among Muslim women vitamin D deficiency is common.”

However, he could not quite explain the link between religion and eating habits. Meanwhile, SMS Medical College Principal Sudhir Bhandari has been quoted by a leading daily as brushing off the development as “just protocol”. “It is like asking the gender of the patient,” he added.

Bhandari’s order says that the SMS hospital has started the process of filling a pre-OPD form in which patients have to fill in all details. SMS Hospital has introduced registration forms with ‘religion’ included in the personal particulars section.

Officials told the daily that other government healthcare institutions, including JK Lon Hospital and the Institute of Respiratory Diseases, are also planning to follow suit. The other details being asked for include address, contact number, Aadhaar and/or Bhamashah card number.

The Bhamashah Yojana is a scheme of the Rajasthan government to transfer benefits of schemes directly to women. Healthcare activists have demanded that religion be left out of the registration forms. Alleging that the government was attempting to drag religion into healthcare as well, they demanded that the column of religion be removed from the form.