Sahana Charan

The Government plans to convert it into a multi-speciality centre

Report saysThe average daily out-patient attendance at the hospital is nearly 70 Of these, only about 10 are leprosy patients

Bangalore: When many districts have eliminated leprosy, the Government-run Leprosy Hospital on Magadi Road seems to have lost the purpose for which it was set up.

The Government is now contemplating conversion of the 160-bed medical institution into a general multi-speciality hospital, according to the recommendations of a High Court committee.

The committee, constituted for improvement of 16 Government/autonomous hospitals of Bangalore City in April 2005, submitted its report in September last.

In its report, the committee headed by B.K. Shalini, Joint Director (Medical), Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services, suggested that the main block of the hospital, which was in a dilapidated condition, be demolished and a 500-bed multi-speciality hospital with modern infrastructure be established in its place.

"The leprosy block may be constructed on the southern rear side for accommodation of 100 patients in the quadrangular area by vacating the front portion of the premises for better utility of health services after demolition of the existing main old dilapidated block," it said.

According to the report, the hospital was a State referral hospital when it was started and the bed strength was 260. The present bed strength is only 160 and bed occupancy during 2004-2005 was around 55 per cent. Of this, most of the patients in the wards are those suffering from chronic conditions and have been in the hospital for months and in some cases, even years.

The average daily out-patient attendance was about 70, of which, only about 10 are leprosy patients. The rest were non-leprosy patients who visit the hospital for general medical treatment, it said.

The report pointed out that the hospital was mostly serving people who came there for general treatment in the out-patient department, and that there were only few leprosy cases.

The committee has strongly opposed the Government's proposal to build a slum colony on the hospital premises. "It is irrational, unjustifiable, unethical and unhygienic to plan a slum colony inside the hospital," it said.

"We are planning to have a general hospital with different specialities on the leprosy hospital premises. A few beds will be earmarked for leprosy patients," says M.G. Prasad, Director for Health and Family Welfare. Since the prevalence rate of leprosy in the State is only 0.8 per cent and since 17 districts has eliminated it, there is little need for a hospital exclusively for leprosy, he said.

But, no allocation had been made in this year's budget for the new hospital, he said.