Rat menace came to a head after a family complained that their dead infant in the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital in Triplicane had been bitten by a rat

In the past four months, 47 rodents were eliminated from the Government General Hospital but authorities say there seems to be no end in sight to the rodent problem in government hospitals. “In a week we manage to catch only eight or nine rats,” rued the authorities. They say that when the rodents are eliminated a new group from the nearby Central Station colonises the hospital premises.

Rat menace came to a head after a family complained that their dead infant in the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital in Triplicane had been bitten by a rat. The baby was delivered at the hospital and was on treatment for 12 days before she died. Doctors contended that her skin and tissues had been damaged due to extensive medication.

Last June, the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital had called for tenders to eliminate rodents without much success. The exercise followed repeated complaints from the forensic medicine department that snakes made the round of the mortuary in search of rodents. A similar complaint arose from Kilpauk Medical Hospital too. The health department, in turn, sought the assistance of the state warehousing corporation, which provided personnel support. Though hospitals called for tenders nothing much happened, say pest control companies.

Pest control experts who met with the hospital authorities advised them to control the crowds by imposing strict visiting hours. The authorities were told that if the Chennai Corporation cleared garbage from the premises twice a day and shops inside the hospital were shut down, half of the problem would be solved.

Gilbert Raja, who has been assisting in the maintenance of the warehousing corporation said, “Rats can make burrows two to three km long and they will move far under the earth. So, it is very difficult to eliminate them. Instead, the hospitals should monitor the movement of visitors by installing more CCTVs. This would prevent garbage accumulation.”

On Thursday, the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital would install more cameras, said Dean V. Kanagasabai. While this would help to monitor movement of visitors, the hospital has also mooted the idea of setting up an ‘Amma canteen’. Corporation officials have approved of the site selected for the canteen. Hospital authorities say the canteen would prevent visitors bringing food into the wards and thereby prevent garbage accumulation.

On average, daily the hospital receives around 10,000 persons as outpatients and around 300 new inpatients. Each of them is accompanied at least by one person. The hospital has around 3,000 beds and sometimes entire families visit and litter the hospital premises.

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