Fifty-two-year-old leprosy patient Hussain Haliganu of Karnataka was sent to Dr Bandorwala Hospital in Kondhwa,Pune,when he was just 10 years old. I even met my wife here. We continue to live here and help in hospital chores, says Haliganu. At the 350-bed hospital,there are 100 such leprosy patients who will never return home.
On January 30,the World Leprosy Day,the inmates of the only state-owned hospital providing comprehensive healthcare to leprosy patients have nothing to cheer about as the hospital faces utter neglect and paucity of fund. The hospital staff have not been paid for nine months. Proposal for a patient welfare committee is pending at the Charity Commissioners office. The committee would have brought at least a minimum of Rs 10 lakh to the hospital.
Regular staff appointments have not been made and around 14 posts are vacant. At present,there are 72 employees,including six doctors and two physiotherapists. With no salaries for the last nine months,the health authorities are desperately trying to retain the staff with promises of early payment. Due to lack of security personnel,there have been encroachments on the campus. An official letter was sent to the District Collectorate seeking permission for building a compound wall.
The hospital management has no other option but to appeal to NGOs for funds.
There are no emergency services at the hospital and patients are sent to Sassoon Hospital for major treatment. Reconstructive surgeries are done with the help of private doctors free of cost,says S Nikalje,physiotherapist at the hospital. He said last year 20 surgeries were performed. Around 110 male and 85 female patients are undergoing treatment at the two wards.
According to health department official figures,the number of new cases of leprosy has been increasing in Pune. Last year,there were 137 new cases of leprosy in Pune Municipal Corporation area,120 in Pimpri-Chinchwad and 286 in Pune rural. In 2008-09,there were as many as 206 cases of leprosy in Pune,137 in Pimpri-Chinchwad and 217 in Pune rural while in 2007-08 there were as many as 173 cases in Pune city,134 in Pimpri-Chinchwad and 194 in Pune rural.
When contacted,Dr Pradeep Gaikwad,Deputy Director of Health,said they have written to the state for an increase in the hospital budget. We had asked for Rs 64 lakh but have received only Rs 12 lakh,Gaikwad admitted.