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Blame game over malaria

With nine cases of malaria reported from the nurses’ hostel of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, panic-stricken officials blamed the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) for not taking adequate preventive steps. The officials, including hospital superintendent K.K. Adhikari, were on Monday reportedly consulting health experts for a quick solution to the crisis.

“The CMC last sprayed larvaecide in July this year. Since then, adequate disinfectant has not been sprayed in the various pockets of the hospital, which could be one of the reasons for the outbreak,” said Adhikari.

The outbreak has alarmed the hostel’s inmates. Some of the nurses have applied for leave, while others have moved in with relatives. “It’s scary to see colleagues falling ill. One of them has even contracted malignant malaria. I do not remember when disinfectants have last been sprayed in the hostel,” said one of the nurses.

On Monday, the hospital authorities held an emergency meeting and decided to drain out the puddles on the hospital premises. Disinfectants were sprayed adequately in various departments, especially the gynaecological ward of Eden Hospital, adjacent to the nurses’ hostel.

Sources said the news of the outbreak was kept under wraps for several days. The matter came up only after a section of the hospital staff shouted slogans on the hospital premises on Monday. “Today, it is just the hostel that has been affected, but the outbreak might assume dangerous proportions in future. The authorities must take concrete steps to check further outbreaks,” a few of them said.

Senior officials of the anti-malaria team of the CMC said they could not be blamed for the outbreak. “There had been no requests from the hospital officials to spray disinfectants on the premises. Naturally, we were caught in the dark when the malaria cases were reported. On Saturday, we did spray disinfectants in a few pockets,” a senior official said.

The Medical College authorities, however, alleged that taking adequate anti-malaria steps was the prerogative of the civic department. “They are supposed to do it on their own and not wait for us to call them. We are completely unaware about their Saturday-spray claims,” said an official of the hospital.

Senior officials of the state health department on Monday inquired after the scenario prevailing in the hospital and the status of the patients. The hospital superintendent sought the department’s intervention to prevent another outbreak.

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