The cancer of overcrowding | india | Hindustan Times
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The cancer of overcrowding

There’s no solace in numbers. At least not in Delhi, where there are 724 hospitals and nursing homes, with 36,352 hospital beds. That’s 2.14 beds per 1,000 persons, compared to the national average of 0.86 beds per 1,000 persons.

india Updated: Aug 03, 2011 23:53 IST

There’s no solace in numbers. At least not in Delhi, where there are 724 hospitals and nursing homes, with 36,352 hospital beds. That’s 2.14 beds per 1,000 persons, compared to the national average of 0.86 beds per 1,000 persons.

Yet patients in Delhi cannot get a bed for surgery or treatment when they need it because 50% of them — being treated at government-run hospitals such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) — are from other states with little or no health infrastructure.

Aiims has over 2,200 beds, yet people in need of an elective (non-emergency) surgery have to wait for anywhere between a few days to two years.

“Almost every department at Aiims is doing three to five times more work than it’s equipped to handle. Last year, an internal analysis showed that departments such as neurology and gynaecology were treating 400 patients per day, when the capacity was for about 120,” said Vineet Chawdhry, deputy director administration, Aiims.

That’s the reason why despite treating 10,000 patients and performing 323 surgeries, the queue of patients doesn’t get any shorter. Since most travel with at least two others from their village, the hospital resembles the platform of a busy railway station.

“Patients from all parts of the country come to Aiims, irrespective of being referred (here) or not. Subsequently, Aiims doctors have to deal with about 10,000 patients in OPD on a daily basis and thousands others in in-patient departments.I hope from next year things will improve and the pressure on Aiims will reduce, since six such institutes are coming up in Patna, Bhubaneswar, Bhopal, Raipur, Jodhpur and Haridwar. These will be operational by the end of this year,” said union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, also president of Aiims.

“We do the best we can, but the number of patients keeps going up each day,” said Dr DK Sharma, medical superintendent, Aiims.

‘We’ve decided to reach out’
It is heart-wrenching to read about the plight of thousands of poor waiting helplessly outside India’s most prestigious medical institution for their turn to be treated (Poor & nowhere to go, August 3). The article disturbed me and I spoke to a number of friends who felt the same way. We’ve decided to reach out to those less fortunate and help them in whatever way we could.

For cases such as that of cancer patient Hem Kumari, we could help by providing them with rail tickets and help in consultation with doctors.

Geeta Bhargava, C-322 FF, Defence Colony