ANDHRA PRADESH

Malaria unit plagued by space crunch

HYDERABAD, MARCH 24. Apathy continues to dog the malaria unit, which incidentally is located on the premises of a premier medical centre named after the man who discovered malarial parasites in mosquitoes.

Such has been the neglect of the malaria laboratory at Sir Ronald Ross Institute for Tropical Diseases (Fever Hospital) that the decades-old facility does not have even proper accommodation. The laboratory is in a single room that also acts as a storeroom of sorts and has a small area that is used as a waiting hall for patients.

Daily `collisions'

The unit has asbestos roof. But the sheets leak during rains and turn the place into an oven of sorts in summer. The crammed space hardly suffices for the 26 staffers who do their jobs in turns. "There is very little space and we find it hard to move around without bumping either into furniture or colleagues," says one.

Located in a corner between the outer and inner gates of the hospital, the unit receives between 160 to 200 blood samples for analysis each day. A majority of these samples are from patients admitted at the Fever Hospital, according to staff. "We work on 400 samples daily when there are disease outbreaks."

There is no one to clean the laboratory either. "We are forced to sweep the premises each day," laments a senior staff member.

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