Health has never been a priority with the Amritsar Municipal Corporation, which is evident from the fact that the MC has never bothered to upgrade the city's historic Princess of Wales Zenana Hospital situated at Dhab Khatikan. And even with the civic polls drawing near, the MC does not seem inclined to do much to revive this historical hospital.
The hospital, which dates back to the British period, is essentially a maternity hospital. The torn mattresses, the deserted wards and the desolate exteriors speak volumes about the neglect being meted out to the hospital.
It is also known by yet another name 'Nagar Nigam Zenana Hospital' and still possesses an impressive face that speaks volumes about its association with the British period.
Lady Chelmsford laid the foundation stone of the hospital in 1917. The hospital was once a preferred destination for women opting for institutional deliveries. Sir Henry D Craik, the then governor of Punjab, inaugurated the hospital in 1940. Sources said that from 3,000 deliveries per year in its heyday, the number has drastically reduced to a few hundred per year.
According to information sought by Naresh Johar, a local resident, under the RTI Act, a total of 235 deliveries were done from April 2006 to March 2007, 157 during April 2007 to March 2008, 177 from April 2008 to March 2009, 182 between April 2009 and March 2010 and 150 between April 2010 and March 2011.
Dr Navjot Kaur, in charge of the hospital, said that now women preferred to go elsewhere for deliveries as the hospital lacked staff. "As of now, there is only one doctor and no facility for surgery. Hence, the hospital is unable to take in women who require a caesarean section," she said, adding that consequently the number of delivery cases undertaken per month had come done to around 13 per month.
Municipal commissioner Dharampal Gupta claimed that despite the shortage of staff, the OPD of the hospital daily received around 60 patients. He said the MC had an elaborate plan to revive the hospital, but cited shortage of funds as a hindrance.
"We need funds to undertake massive overhauling of the hospital. But for that we would first have to analyse how much is needed to upgrade a particular wing of the hospital and how much is needed for the entire institution," he added.