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Water holds up hospital

Durgapur, Dec. 3: The healthcare system is creaking under the burden of patients, yet a spanking new 120-bed hospital — fitted with some sophisticated equipment — is lying idle in Bankura district even one-and-a-half years after completion.

While admitting the delay, director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee, who visited the sub-divisional hospital at Khatra, about 200 km from Calcutta, recently, pleaded that the government is grappling with a peculiar problem that ails the clinic.

“As you know, districts like Purulia and Bankura have very low water tables. After the hospital at Khatra was completed and we were about to inaugurate it, we found that the water table there is so low that the deep tubewells are not functioning properly. We are planning an alternative way to get water supply to the hospital,” said Chatterjee from Writers’ Buildings.

Health department sources said one alternative being planned is to get piped water from the Kangshabati, which means a water treatment plant would have to be set up for the hospital, built at a cost of Rs 2.64 crore.

“We are keen to open the hospital to the public as soon as the water problem is sorted out,” said Chatterjee.

But the 9.21 lakh people of Khatra, totally dependent on a 20-bed primary health centre where the doctors and the infrastructure are under tremendous pressure, are wondering why it is taking the government so long to sort out the problem.

District officials said 40 per cent of the Khatra population lives below the poverty line. Most of them suffer from acute malnutrition leading to rampant occurrence of tuberculosis, diarrhoea and other enteric diseases.

“We have to attend to at least 500 outdoor patients a day and it is difficult to provide the best treatment with such inadequate infrastructure,” said H. Sahoo, block medical officer of health.

The pressure is such that some of the equipment already installed in the hospital, like X-ray machines and an operating microscope for microsurgery of the eye, are being put to use.

Eye surgeon . Mohanty took special permission to use the operating microscope and has conducted at least 120 surgeries. The word spread and now critical eye patients from nearby block hospitals are being referred to the Khatra health centre.

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