BMC healthcare: Anti-malaria drive the only silver lining in black cloud

Even as the Shiv Sena’s 2007 manifesto promised that all Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation hospitals would be equipped with latest technology to provide quality healthcare by 2012,the current condition of the civic hospitals,particularly the 16 peripheral hospitals of the city,is a clear indication of a promise unfulfilled.

Written by Ananya Banerjee | Mumbai | Published:January 25, 2012 2:54 am

Even as the Shiv Sena’s 2007 manifesto promised that all Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hospitals would be equipped with latest technology to provide quality healthcare by 2012,the current condition of the civic hospitals,particularly the 16 peripheral hospitals of the city,is a clear indication of a promise unfulfilled. The healthcare budget increased to Rs 2,183.10 crore in 2011-2012 from Rs 752.87 crore in 2007-2008.

However,frequent staff strikes and protests,hospital deaths and controversies have plagued the BMC’s healthcare department for the last five years.

Incomplete projects

The KEM redevelopment plan,building of the trauma centre at Ajgaonkar and the Shatabdi renovation have found a constant mention in the BMC manifestos every year since 2007. A budget of Rs 692.66 crore was allocated in 2007-08 for the redevelopment of KEM Hospital,which included five quarters,student hostel building and staff quarters. In the same year,Rs 24 crore was allocated to redevelop the Shatabdi Hospital in Kandivali and convert it into a 120 bedded super specialty hospital. In 2010,Rs 40 crore was proposed for the development of the Ajgaonkar plot in Jogeshwari to construct a 266 bed trauma hospital.

While work at KEM has mostly been smooth and might meet its deadline of 2012,the Ajgaonkar project met with technical glitches in 2010,due to which the project plan had to be changed. Shatabdi Hospital inaugurated its OPD department last year,but the other phases of the hospital are far from completion. “These are ongoing projects and work is underway. They will be completed very soon,mostly in the next financial year” said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar.

Seven Hills row

As part of BMC’s major Public Private Partnership (PPP) in healthcare,it entered into an agreement with the Seven Hills Hospital in 2005. The five-star hospital at Marol was inaugurated by Pratibha Patil in 2010 and is spread across 7 acres of BMC land. The BMC and the hospital authorities got into a dispute over the hospital’s decision to mortgage the hospital and acquire loan. The two parties also had differences regarding the proportion of free treatment to be given to the poor and the number of BMC operated beds in the super specialty hospital. In July 2011,the BMC decided to move court against Seven Hills.

Staff issues

Burdened with long working hours,poor working conditions and paltry pay,nurses and doctors at civic hospitals have struck work innumerable times over the last few years thus paralysing medical services. The BMC’s linkage system,whereby resident doctors from the KEM,Sion and Nair hospitals would be posted to peripheral hospitals for a year,further angered the doctors who took the matter to court. Security for hospital employees continues to be an issue with frequent attacks on doctors. “Attack on doctors is a non-bailable offence. However,incidents of violence continue to take place. Promises of beefing up security and installing CCTVs have been constantly made,but nothing has been delivered yet,” said Dr Pankaj Nalawade,president of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.

Tackling Malaria

Recognising the stinging issue of malaria in the city,the BMC had purchased eight vehicle mounted fogging machines and 227 shoulder machines in 2009. While the civic body can boast of its successful anti-malaria drive in 2011- 2,200 cases tested positive for malaria as compared to last year’s 5,000 – the results came at the cost of around 2,100 malarial deaths from 2008 to 2011,with the F South Ward (Parel-Sewri-Elphinstone) recording maximum number of cases. Civic officials agreed that the task of sustaining the low numbers lay ahead. “This year will be particularly challenging as we have to ensure that we sustain last year’s success,” said Dr E Bandivdekar,BMC’s executive health official. Incidentally,the BMC will be using the anti-malaria plan as a template to tackle the TB cases in the city.

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