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Dengue clinics unprepared to deal with disease

The 55 government-run dispensaries in Delhi suffer from a dismal doctor-patient ratio. Only one doctor is available for 300 or more patients every day in these clinics.

Dipavali Hazra & Anando Bhakto  New Delhi | 26th Sep 2015

A doctor attends to dengue patients in a dengue pediatric ward of the Hindu Rao hospital in New Delhi on 16 September. AFP

When Dinesh visited the much publicised fever and dengue clinic at Mayur Vihar, Phase 1, complaining of four-day old fever and acute headache, he was quickly disposed of with a strip of paracetamol. "Where can I get a dengue test done?" he was seen asking people, dissatisfied with the Delhi government-run dispensary, which does not have provisions for even a platelet count for patients who suspect they have dengue. With only two shabby rooms and one bed, unhygienic toilet, no drinking water arrangement, and no ambulance, this special dengue-care unit gives a lie to the Arvind Kejriwal government's assertion that the disease is being tackled on a war-footing. Over 4,000 Delhi residents have been affected by dengue in the last couple of months, with 25 people dying from the illness.

Although 55 government-run dispensaries in the city have been turned into special fever and dengue clinics at the initiative of Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain to tackle the alarming rise of dengue cases, they suffer from a dismal doctor-patient ratio. While 300 or more patients every day stream into these clinics, only one doctor is available to attend to them at a time. When these two correspondents visited the Mayur Vihar fever and dengue clinic on Tuesday at around 1 pm, the lone doctor there told them she had seen over 350 patients since 7 am. This means that each dengue suspect received only a minute's counsel and no blood test, shattering the Aam Aadmi Party government's assertion that the clinics demonstrate its eagerness to bring efficient health care facility at the door step of the economically weaker sections.

When asked what was the utility of the clinic if there was not even the minimum provision of a platelet count, the doctor said that she has been advised by her higher-ups not to speak to the media unless the reporters had a written authorisation letter from the Chief District Medical Office.

With only two shabby rooms and one bed, unhygienic toilet, no drinking water arrangement, and no ambulance, this special dengue-care unit gives a lie to the Delhi government’s assertion that the disease is being tackled in a war-footing.

The scene was no different at Vasundhara Enclave, where two doctors are attending to 300 or more patients on alternative shifts. The doctor there said on the condition of anonymity that so far they have had no confirmed cases of dengue because they lack medical provisions to do such confirmations. "Although we have been instructed to specially cater to dengue patients for the last four days, the authorities have not provided us the dengue rapid test kit. Therefore, it is beyond our capacity to test whether the patients have dengue," the doctor told The Sunday Guardian. She added that platelet count test is, however, being done and they have an arrangement with Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital for shifting serious patients.

Surprisingly, the hospital refuted that the claim. "We do no have any such arrangement with the fever clinics. We have not admitted any patients from these clinics," a doctor at the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital told this newspaper.

The clinics are an initiative of Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain who has instructed them to remain open from 7am to 9pm all seven days a week, for urgent treatment of dengue suspects and immediate hospitalisation in case a patient is serious.

At the fever and dengue clinic at Saket's government dispensary, however, the doctors again complained that they have not been provided with the dengue rapid test kit. In its absence, they merely prescribe some medicine and send off the patients with a few paracetamol tablets. Although there is an arrangement for blood test, most patients are being denied of that because there is only one compounder to attend to 150 to 200 patients who are turning up every morning.

A staff there said on the condition of anonymity that the clinic has a tie-up with Nehru Homeopathic Hospital in Defence Colony and Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya Hospital at Malviya Nagar, but so far only four patients have been referred for treatment. "We do not have any ambulance for shifting the serious patients to hospital," the staff said. He added that there is only one doctor attending to the sea of patients.

A woman, who had come for a check-up there from Sangam Vihar, said the administration was largely to blame for the spread of dengue. "Fumigation was done but not sufficiently or regularly. Mosquitoes are breeding like anything in our locality," she said.

 
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