Mumbai: At a government care centre in Mumbai, leprosy patients are busy cleaning and dressing each other’s wounds. Some of them are even mopping the hospital’s floor to keep their surroundings clean.
“I do the bandaging for other sick patients. We help each other. There are doctors but they don’t do the bandaging. We take care of our own wounds,” said Hariya Sawant, one of the patients.
With only four doctors and one ward boy in the Acworth Municipal Hospital, nearly 100 patients here have no choice but to mop and sweep.
“I mop and sweep the floors. Whatever work is to be done, I do. Nowadays, I also water the garden,” said Raman Prabhu who has spent the last five decades at the care centre.
The hospital is run by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Asia’s richest civic body, with a budget of over Rs. 30,000 crore.
When asked about the state of affairs at the hospital, the BMC only passed the ball from one court to another.
“It is our hospital but ask the health officer, I don’t know about this,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh.
The health officer was also unaware of the reality.
“I will have to speak to my doctors and find out,” said Health Officer, Padmaja Keskar.
Leprosy patients suffer from severe disfigurement of skin and have trouble using their limbs. Although experts point out that some amount of exercise is good for patients who are not completely disabled, many disabled patients at Acworth told NDTV that they do the chores themselves, too.
“Things should not be allowed to escalate this much. If patients aren’t trained they shouldn’t be doing the dressing,” said Dr V V Pai, Director of the Bombay Leprosy Project, an NGO that works towards the welfare of leprosy patients in the city.
In Mumbai, 65% of the care for leprosy patients is provided by non-profit and non-governmental organisations whereas only 35% is taken care of by the government and Municipal Corporation. Even then, a BMC run hospital in the city, that is home to 10% of the city’s leprosy patients, is struggling to fend for them.