| Chapatis left in the open at AIIMS-Patna kitchen on Saturday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Patna, June 21: Bad food and lack of surgical instruments caused the AIIMS-Patna administration embarrassment before Harsh Vardhan today during the Union health minister’s first visit to the state.
Soon after reaching the institute and a quick speech, Harsh Vardhan asked the students: Mess mein khana achha milta hai (Do you get good food in the mess)?”
“No”, came the unanimous answer. Around 60 MBBS and nursing students were in attendance at the college auditorium for the interaction with the health minister.
Hearing the students, he said: “Who is running the mess and why is the administration letting this happen? I don’t want to make an issue of out it, but an institution like AIIMS needs to look after such aspects also.”
Harsh Vardhan directed the institute administration to develop a state-of-the-art kitchen on the lines of the one in AIIMS-Bhopal, one among the six new AIIMS coming up in the country. “AIIMS-Bhopal has a state-of-the-art kitchen for the students living in the hostels. I had food made in that kitchen, along with the students. It was a delightful experience,” he added.
A second-year MBBS student, told The Telegraph: “Tasty or even nutritious food is a big ask at the institute mess. We usually get dishes with potato and none with green vegetables. We have become used to such food.”
The Telegraph had reported on September 12, 2013, how students fell ill because of alleged food poisoning at AIIMS-Patna. Sources blamed the unhygienic conditions at the institution canteen for the plight of the aspiring doctors.
If AIIMS-Patna director G.K. Singh thought bad food was the end of it, he was wrong. Once Harsh Vardhan asked the faculty members present to share what was on their mind, problems started to pour out.
Dr Anup Kumar, an associate professor in the orthopaedics department, said: “The company assigned the job to purchase surgical instrument of the health hub is going about its work very slowly. The company issued the global tender a long time ago, but we are yet to see the results. Where are the instruments?”
Some complained they did not have the basic instruments to perform even surgeries like laparoscopy.
Asked later about the poor quality of food, Singh said: “The administration has formed a students’ committee to look after the functioning of the mess. Why should the administration then bother about the quality of the food served to the students? The administration is supposed to look after the hygiene factor and the equipment, which is being done. So far as what the Union minister said, yes, we should provide a good ambience to the students at in mess. Soon, Rs 1.10 crore would be spent for development of the mess.”
The second-year MBBS student said: “We take all the necessary steps, but are not being able to improve the mess’ condition. The administration, however, cannot say it does not have any influence on its functioning.”