Rs 50-lakh machine remains dumped in PGI central store

  • Tanbir Dhaliwal, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Dec 26, 2015 10:59 IST

A machine costing £48,000 (around Rs50 lakh), purchased by the psychiatry department to treat patients suffering from mental ailments is lying uninstalled for nearly two years at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

Reason: There is “no suitable place” in the psychiatry department to install the machine.

The transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) machine was supplied to the department in March 2014, but it is still lying in the central store of the institute.

Talking about the utility of the machine, a senior psychiatrist at the PGIMER said: “It is a new modality of treatment to cure people suffering from depression, anxiety, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and other mental disorders.”TMS therapy uses a highly targeted, pulsed magnetic field to stimulate function in brain regions known to affect mood.

Every month, the psychiatry department of the PGIMER receives around 1,000 new patients of all age groups, with majority from adjoining regions of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

“We come across a lot of patients in advance stages who do not respond to normal course of medication. This therapy will, thus, be helpful in treating such patients who become resistant to medication,” said the psychiatrist.

It is a very expensive machine and not many public health institutes have it, he said. When asked why the machine has not been installed yet, the doctor said: “We could not get any suitable place in the psychiatry department to install the machine. Now, the place has been allocated and the machine will be installed in a month.”

GMCH, too, plans to buy the machine

Throwing light on TMS therapy, Dr BS Chavan, head of the psychiatry department, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, said, “In the brain, there remains a gap between two cells, which is filled with neurotransmitters (chemicals). It is believed that the common cause of depression is deficiency in the release of these chemicals.”

Explaining how TMS therapy helps in curing depression, he said: “In this therapy, a coil is placed near the scalp of the person receiving treatment. A magnetic field is generated that stimulates the brain cells. This stimulation leads to release of chemicals, hence helps in curing depression.”

Dr Chavan said the prevalence of resistant depression (patients who do not respond to medication) is very high. “Approximately 30% to 40% of the patients suffering from depression have resistant depression. In such patients, either we restore to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or multiple medications, which can have several side effects. Hence, TMS can be of great help to such patients,”he said.

Dr Chavan said the psychiatry department of GMCH, too, was planning to purchase the equipment.

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