BEED/ PARLI (MAHARASHTRA) At 2pm, as the tempo supplying drinking water to doctors at the district hospital in Beed prepares to leave, relatives of the patients admitted start chasing it. Belonging to poor families, they don’t have the money to buy water cans, costing ` 30 each; the chase is just to catch hold of the little water left at the bottom of the container once the doctors have returned them.
Ideally, the hospital should have provided them water, except, it has none.
Last week, the hospital cancelled around 300 surgeries after it ran out of water. Now, it is only performing operations that can wait, the rest have been postponed until the taps start running again. “Like everyone, we are also dependent on tanker water,” said hospital superintendent, Dr CS Bolde. On Friday, the hospital dug a third borewell to meet its needs.
The situation is similar at the Government Medical College HospitalinAurangabad.Compared to last year, it has witnessed a 20% rise in admissions. “The paying capacity of people in this region has gone down. They are unable to pay the fees of private doctors and so the entire patient load is directed to government facilities,” said Dr CB Mhaske, dean of the hospital. The Beed district hospital too is running at 150% capacity.
Ironically, the reason behind the onslaught of patients is also water, which is either lacking in some places or contaminated in others.
In April, the hospital admitted over 200 patients with waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid and gastroenteritis. “The borewell water is a bit yellow but we can’t help it. Otherwise, we will die of thirst,” said Sarita, whose two-yearold daughter developed diarrhoea.
Pediatrician Dr Vijay Rawat, who practices in Parli town, treats at least 20-25 cases of diarrhoea among children on a daily basis. “Some children are also coming with meningitis and convulsions as a result of the heat,” he said.
“People request me to treat them in a day so they don’t have to pay for longer hospitalisation. This is not Mumbai, where people have insurance and savings. Farmers live hand-to-mouth. When they have a medical emergency, they borrow money,” said Dr Satish Gutte, a physician.
Dr Gutte and colleagues have slashed their fees to accommodate poor patients. “The drought will also kill doctors. Most private hospitals do not have enough patients as the latter don’t have money to pay fees. This will lead to closure of smaller hospitals,” said Dr Santosh Munde, president of the doctors’ association in Parli.