Long working hours and lack of access to proper food take its toll on Mumbai cops

Of the departments affected the most are police stations and the armed wing.

Written by Megha Sood | Mumbai | Published: August 14, 2013 1:02 am

In the last three years,5,330 constables of Mumbai police were admitted to hospitals with critical illnesses. As many as 1,413 of them suffered heart-related ailments. Of these,894 cases were of cardiac emergencies reported while on duty.

Related: Healthcare scheme for cops under review after 8 years

The constabulary,the first in the line to respond who find it difficult to get a break from bandobast duty through the day,suffer from genito urinary emergency,a medical situation that arises due to holding bladder,and also from gastroentitis,a result of poor eating habits. Within the constabulary,740 reported genitor urinary emergency and 248 gastroentitis.

If the constabulary suffers from renal and gastro problems,traffic and armed police personnel are more likely to be injured in road accidents. A total of 387 personnel,mostly from traffic and armed police wing,were injured in road accidents during the last three years.

Related: The bane of bandobast

Information obtained through RTI queries by Mumbai Newsline points to cardiac emergency as the leading ailment across police ranks,with genito-urinary emergency and hypertension as the most recurring ailment in the last three years. The data,police officials confirm,indicates that the working style,with “over exposed” work hours and long time spent in stressful bandobast duty,is leading to fatigue and lack of stamina and rising levels of sugar.

For a 45,000-strong force,low morale and increasing trends of addiction such as tobacco chewing,combat capability is a serious concern. But much more serious is the failing health of policemen.

Related: Mental health a concern among the force

Of the departments affected the most are police stations and the armed wing. Officials in crime branch and Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) have reported cardiac emergency and hypertension more often.

Dr Shahid Barmare,a physician at Kohinoor hospital,confirmed that cardiac and genito-urinary emergencies and digestive problems were the most common ailments that policemen suffer from. Kohinoor Hospital is among the 21 hospitals empanelled by Mumbai police to treat its personnel.

“Genito-uninary emergencies are problems of kidney,bladder and urethra and are caused due to bad diet,low water intake and poor toilet facilities. Ideally,one should drink water as soon as one feels thirsty,which is not always possible for policemen who are out on bandobast duty for long hours. Lack of toilet facilities also means they have to hold urine for a long time,which also leads to genito-urinary emergencies,” said Dr Barmare.

In the last five years,Mumbai police referred 77 policemen for cancer treatment to various hospitals. RTI data shows most of the newly admitted cases are of personnel serving at police stations. Tobacco being the easiest way to kill hunger,most of the constables are addicted to the contraband. Of the addicts,many are suffering from lung and oral cancer. In fact,a constable from the Anti-Narcotics Wing is still in a hospital.

With the rising number of cancer cases,Tata Memorial Hospital has written to Mumbai police asking it to adopt methods to detect the disease at an early stage and to improve awareness.

According to professor Pankaj Chaturvedi,cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital,incidences of cancer and obesity in police are quite common. “A person recruited in police invariably takes to chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol,because he is constantly under pressure. Cancer is not an unusual consequence of it,” he said,adding that mouth cancer is the most common type of cancer among policemen.

It has been three years since the detailed survey of 28,449 police personnel exposed various health conditions,but the recommendations following the survey are yet to take shape. One of the most basic recommendations,that of a mandatory medical check-up at the age of 30,is yet to be implemented.

(With inputs from Tabassum Barnagarwala and Gautam Mengle)

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