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Leprosy mission stuck on the move

- Staff wait for Sakchi office to be vacated

Jamshedpur, March 2: The National Leprosy Programme (NLEP) has been rendered homeless in East Singhbhum — literally — for the last two-days.

The district, which currently has 236 lepers receiving treatment under NLEP, sees an average of five patients daily. East Singhbhum has a leprosy prevalence rate of 0.78 with two ashrams (residential colonies) at Burmamines and Baradwari for the cured patients.

Interestingly, till Thursday, the NLEP office functioned out of a six-roomed building located behind the burn unit of MGM Medical College and Hospital in Sakchi. However, after repeated reminders from the MGM authorities — who wanted to set up an isolation ward at the spot— East Singhbhum district civil surgeon Jagat Bhushan Prasad directed the district leprosy officer to clear the office within 24 hours.

According to the communiqué received from the civil surgeon’s office, the NLEP office was to shift to the old civil surgeon’s office near Sakchi’s state excise department office.

The NLEP office staff, as per orders, emptied out their office loading all stationery and equipment in a mini pick-up truck. However, on reaching the Sakchi office they found barring two, none of the other rooms had been cleared out completely.

Hence, the mini-truck could not be unloaded. And the staff were left without an office to function out of.

Speaking to The Telegraph, East Singhbhum leprosy officer Yadunandan Prasad Singh said he was informed of the predicament after returning from Ranchi today. “I will take the issue up with the civil surgeon,” he promised.

MGM hospital superintendent S.S. Prasad said they wanted to use the space for a six-bed isolation ward. “As soon as the office is vacated, we will start work on setting up the ward that will deal with cases of avian influenza and swine flu,” he said.

Civil surgeon Prasad, however, said he had not been informed about any problems being faced by the NLEP staff.

“Nobody has told me anything. As far as I know, my office in Sakchi is not in use as I have shifted to a new location (at Sadar Hospital in Khasmahal) in January. If there is a problem, I will ask my staff to look into it and hand over the premises to NLEP at the earliest,” he said.