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This is how AIDS is spreading in India!

February 13, 2007

Last evening I heard a shocking story on a news channel. Disposable needles are being re-used in government hospitals. Hospitals which are invariably frequented by the poor. This particular report is about a district hospital in Thiruvallore town, near Chennai hospital where the IBN news team had hidden cameras. A quote from the report:

“…over 1,500 patients walk into this hospital for blood tests and injections everyday, the hospital has to make do with just 500 disposable syringes a day. This means the doctors and nurses here use the same syringes on two to three patients in order to make up for the shortfall…a nurse at the hospital did admit to this practice. “We re-use these disposable needles on the rest of the patients. But we put them in an autoclave first to sterilise them. We are not supposed to re-use them, but due to lack of funds, we don’t have enough needles.”

Is it surprising that this state (Tamil Nadu) has the highest number of HIV cases in India? Or that India might soon overtake South Africa and be a country with the maximum AIDs sufferers in the whole world?

Government hospitals in many states tend to be lax about hygiene. Particularly in the rural areas. We live in Mumbai but even here government hospitals have their problems. My maid tells me that she doesn’t like to go to a government hospital although she cannot afford the treatment at a private one. She says government hospitals are crowded, there are long lines, doctors are not available, and worse, the staff simply doesn’t care. And when this indifference is coupled with greed, tragedies happen.

There is a word for it: Corruption. Supplies disappear, funds are misused…and this is what probably happened in the Tamil Nadu case. As the IBN report explains, a disposable needle is sold to these hospitals by the government for just a rupee! One rupee! But even then the hospital couldn’t get enough disposable needles. Or rather they didn’t want to. What is scary is that according to the report using unsterilised needles is common in rural hospitals all over Tamil Nadu. I wonder how many government hospitals in other states are doing exactly this.

(Photo sourced from Indiadaily)

Related Reading: Public Healthcare is in bad shape
In India no one wants to talk about AIDS

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 13, 2007 12:39 pm

    This is absolutely deplorable a state of affairs! Here in Canada people complain about the state of public medicine, and yet free needles are available to drug users on the streets so that the incidence of Hep C and AIDS is lowered among I.V. drug users. Whenever I go to a publicly funded lab for blood work, I am astounded by the amount of supplies that are available there, and medicare pays for any necessary bloodwork. I am horrified by the inequalities rampant over the world, and sure am ashamed when people here bad-mouth a system which provides so much care! At what point do governments step in to mitigate such problems as exist in India – when masses of people are affected, it becomes that much harder to stop the spread of such a diseas as AIDS?

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