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AIIMS Campus - A Breeding Ground for Mosquitoes

It's not surprising that mosquitoes have besieged the country's premier hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), with a huge drain// not far from its western perimeter and garbage littered across the campus.

In the last 10 days, the raging dengue fever in the capital has exposed serious flaws within India's best known public health facility - often touted as the largest in Asia - with 26 resident doctors, medical students and staff being admitted to the hospital with the mosquito-born disease.

More shockingly, a seventh semester student of AIIMS, Kamal Raj Kiran, died due to dengue last Saturday.

While the government still claims that the hospital is well equipped to handle any disease, a walk through the 100-acre campus gives a fair idea of the cleanliness status - or the lack of it.

Hostel rooms hardly get sunlight and the cafeteria inside the hospital as well as the outside eateries on the western part are ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Said a student of the hospital: "The administration has started fumigating everyday only after residents of the campus contracted dengue. Neither the hospital authorities nor the civic officials are bothered about cleaning the stinking drain in Yusuf Sarai."

"You can see mosquitoes growing in the drains. More than a bad site, it's slowly becoming a threat to the life of both the residents of AIIMS and the patients coming for treatment," said the research student.

A subway connecting the hospital with the main road near gate number one is full of garbage and a frequent resting place for stray dogs.

The central lawn often has stagnant water and no one bothers about it. Water in flower vessels and coolers of hostel residents and staff quarters almost goes without notice.

The overhead water tanks supplying water to several wards are not well covered; this civic authorities say is the perfect breedin g ground for aedes aegypti mosquitoes that cause dengue and mainly breed in clean stagnant water.

On Oct 3, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) sent a notice to AIIMS accusing the R.P. Centre of Ophthalmic Sciences for not complying with the hygiene standard.

The notice by the NDMC sanitation department pointed out that the "loose lids" of overhead tanks need to be taken care of and plastic awnings at the nuclear medicine department needed to be fixed properly as they collect water and are potential mosquito breeding grounds.

"Yes, we have received the notice from NDMC," admitted Shakti Gupta, chief medical officer of the R.P. Centre. "We have already sent a compliance report to the sanitary inspector G.K. Gaur."

Gupta, who is also the chief spokesperson of the institute, said it was not possible to maintain cleanliness of the highest standards.

"Our hospital is definitely clean but cleanliness of the highest order cannot be maintained as over 8,000 patients are treated everyday in our hospital. Patients and relatives throwing wastes in the campus is very natural," Gupta told IANS.

He, however, blamed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the NDMC for not doing enough to keep the campus clean.

"Some civic authorities said they have sent 22 notices to AIIMS but we have received only one. Don't you think the civic officials should show some responsibility on this front?"

Just blaming the hospital for mosquitoes will not help, it should be a collective responsibility. "Sanitary inspectors hardly visit our campus, forget about giving advice to us."

With civic authorities and hospital administration playing the blame game, patients continue to suffer with relatives saying that the sanitation situation has worsened.

"The situation has really gone down here. With so many dengue cases being reported from the campus itself, there is a sense of fea r among us," said Sunita, who is here from Patna to treat her son.

"If doctors can contact dengue in AIIMS, who will rescue commoners?" she asked.


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