The tall claims by the state government of providing better facilities and infrastructure to HIV positive patients have proved hollow. The Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centre at Government Rajindra Hospital has been facing a shortage of space.
ART centre senior medical officer (SMO) Dr Amar Singh Azad says, "The centre has been demanding allocation of space from the hospital administration for the past two years. At present, the centre can accommodate only 10-15 patients whereas the number of patients coming to the centre daily is around 150. The shortage of space has added to the woes of patients."
The centre established in 2008 has around 5,000 HIV positive patients registered with it.
Dr Azad says the patients coming to the centre are carriers of multiple infections and with a weak immune system they become easy prey to various diseases. Due to shortage of space, the risk of catching diseases among patients is higher. There is also the risk of the staff getting infected from patients. "The patients include widows and orphans who have been abandoned by their families with no place to go to. Besides other worries, they also have to cope with the shortage of space at the centre," says Dr Azad.
He adds that of the patients registered with the centre, 16% are required to visit the centre every month and 30% every six months.
A source says the data manager at the centre had got infected with TB from the patients three years ago. The SMO says there is no arrangement for cross-ventilation in the area, hence infection spreads easily and is passed on.
Manoj Kumar, a patient from Samana, says, "I have been visiting the centre for the past four years, and the problem of space has been persistent. For hours on end we have to stand in a queue. For a single visit to the centre I have to give up my one day's wages and leave my children alone at home. With so many worries on mind, standing for hours in a queue adds to my woes."
Gurtej, a patient from Sunam, says, "The centre has no place where patients can come and sit. There is no arrangement for drinking water."
Medical superintendent Dr Sharda says, "The administration is looking for more space to allocate for the centre. Within a fortnight's time, space will be allocated. I understand the hardships the patients have been going through."