The locked door of a ward at Infectious Diseases Hospital in Ranchi on Tuesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
A pack of stray dogs saunters near the three wards of the state-run Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) on East Jail Road in Ranchi on Tuesday morning, a sight the idle fourth-grade female staffers don’t find incongruous.
The wards at the hospital dedicated to the free treatment of rabies, diarrhoea and tetanus, with six beds in each, have been locked for the past 10 days.
Set up in 1947, a vicious cycle of delayed funding, poor infrastructure and manpower crunch, all leading to low-to-no patient count in beds and OPD, has gripped the hospital. Due to funds crunch, lifesaving drugs, vaccines and other medicines have run out of stock. Patient footfall dried up gradually.
Hospital superintendent Dr Vibha Singh said without medicines, they had to send patients to Sadar Hospital.
Inside her office, a board that originally displayed names of 36 medicines has been pasted over with white paper. On this sheet, names of a few basic drugs including dextrose and saline were inscribed, but Singh said these too were out of stock.
“Hum bahut pareshan hain. Ek to medicine nahin hai, phir hum akele kitna sambhale (I am really anxious. First, there’s no medicine, and secondly, how much can I do alone),” Singh said.
She added that usually five to six patients sought their services everyday round the year. The number peaked to even 20 a day during monsoon, she added.
Also, against a sanctioned 14 posts, only six are filled. The hospital, which does not serve food to admitted patients, currently has an ancillary nurse-cum-midwife, dresser, male ward attendant, a staffer, a female sweeper and a nurse. The staffer will retire in August.
“We have written to director-in-chief (health services) Dr Sumant Mishra of state health department and also to civil surgeon Gopal Srivastawa on the plight of the hospital, but nothing has changed so far,” she said.
When contacted, civil surgeon Srivastawa admitted to a delay in funds allotment for the IDH in fiscal year 2014-15. “It should be in the range of Rs 10-15 lakh. We requested our director-in-chief in writing to speed up matters. Poor patients are the worst sufferers if the IDH closes. Tetanus and rabies vaccines come in sets and they are too costly for the poor to buy from the open market,” he said.
Mishra, who parried questions on why the delay in allotting funds occurred in the first place, confirmed receiving the civil surgeon’s letter. “I am looking into the issue. I will rectify the situation very soon,” he said.