Khasmahal Sadar Hospital near Jamshedpur on Wednesday. (Bhola Prasad)
“Caught it but couldn’t kill it, because the blood in its body was mine.”
“What is the difference between a mosquito and a fly? A fly can fly but a mosquito cannot mosquito.”
If you are one of those who find machchar jokes funny, you live in an area relatively free of the sting terrorists or can afford to buy repellents or have trained your help at home to put up your mosquito net properly.
Patients of state-owned Sadar Hospital in Khasmahal, 3km from Jamshedpur, wouldn’t share your sense of humour.
It is not exactly funny to swat mosquitoes when you are ill enough to be hospitalised. Or live in dread of catching malaria, dengue and chikungunya while in hospital bed.
But the 100-bed health hub, with OPD services in medicine, orthopaedics, surgery, ophthalmology, paediatrics and gynaecology, can’t afford mosquito nets or repellents.
The hospital, which came up at a cost of Rs 4.5 crore this January and offers free health services to people from outskirts and rural areas, neither has resources to purchase nets and repellents and nor has it managed to convince East Singhbhum malaria department to do so.
“Raat mein machchad kat-tey hain. Kal pitaji bazaar se machchar marne wala coil le aye tab jakar neend aayi (Mosquitoes bite at night. Yesterday (Tuesday), my father got a mosquito coil from market after which I could sleep),” said Chotta Purty (14), a resident of Salgajhuri near Tatanagar, admitted to the hospital’s medical ward for abdominal cramps.
Hospital’s deputy superintendent Sahir Pall admitted patients had a valid grouse.
“We have installed iron meshes on windows to bar mosquitoes. They enter through doors,” he said.
“After getting patient complaints, we have written twice to the district malaria officer to provide us with medicated mosquito nets for use in wards. Unfortunately, our requests have been turned down by the malaria officer,” Pall added.
When contacted, East Singhbhum district malaria officer B.B. Topno said they kept receiving consignments of imported medicated mosquito nets supplied by the Union health ministry.
“These imported medicated mosquito nets are costly. Before sending to Sadar Hospital in Khasmahal, we checked and found beds don’t have rods to put them up. This is why we turned down their request of mosquito nets,” Topno said.
Pall refused to buy Topno’s argument.
“Why should lack of rods matter so much? We can fix wires and tie mosquito nets to each bed. We will soon inform district civil surgeon Jagat Bhushan Prasad about the problem,” said Pall.
Do you agree with the malaria officer’s logic? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org