Haggard after her journey from Mahbubnagar, Razia – in her third month of pregnancy – anxiously stands in a queue among nearly 300 pregnant women. After a wait of over five hours that began at 4 a.m., she is among 100 women to get an ‘out patient token' at the Nayapul Government Maternity Hospital (GMH).
For 200 other underprivileged women who did not receive the token, it is another days' wait, or more. Many will spend the night outside the hospital so that they are not denied consultation the next day. In the hospital, no more than three doctors handle over 600 antenatal out-patient cases (old and new) between 9 a.m and 1 p.m. With one specialist single-handedly attending to over 200 patients in the four hours, the hospital is incapacitated to accept over 150 new patients everyday.
Hundreds of women, many of who travel from far away districts, are hence unattended to. “The posts available at the hospital in 1985, when we conducted 6,000 deliveries a year, are the same posts available even today – when we are performing nearly 20,000 deliveries,” said Dr. Swarna, Superintendent of the hospital.
“While there has been a three-fold increase in the patient load, the machinery to handle them is severely lacking. We are then forced to limit the number of registrations,” she added.
Moreover, despite the presence of five scan machines in the hospitals, outpatients to the hospital – all of who are poor - are forced to procure scans from private diagnostic centres in the hospitals vicinity. “I have travelled so far because I cannot afford consultation at a private hospital. I thought check-up here was free of cost, but the doctor asked me to get a scan from outside where they charged Rs.350,” said Razia, an outpatient. “I will have to get at least two more scans before my delivery,” she added. When contacted, hospital authorities said that only two of the five machines were functional, and that their repair has not been feasible due to huge costs involved in their annual maintenance. Such is the situation even as hospital has been dealing with hundreds of underprivileged patients, not just from across the city, but from across regions of Bidar, Guntur, Mahabubnagar and Ranga Reddy among others, every day.
Keywords: Nayapul Government Maternity Hospital