As dengue stalks Delhi, hospitals struggle to cope

With 4 deaths & 1800 infected by mosquito-borne disease, medical institutions have their hands full.

New Delhi: Suffering from fever, five dengue-stricken children slump on the floor of a state-run hospital in Delhi, waiting for doctors. With four deaths and over 1,800 infected by the mosquito-borne disease here, medical institutions have their hands full.

While the bigger hospitals are trying to cope by joining beds, there are some where patients have little option other than the floor.

At Safdarjung Hospital, run by the government and one of the biggest here, the rush of dengue patients has become difficult to manage. The hospital authorities have even decided to join beds together in a bid to accommodate more patients.
"To tackle space constraints, we have joined two or three beds together so that four to five patients can lie down together, though it`s unhealthy," Prathap Dutta, joint secretary of resident doctors association, said.

As many as 150 patients, Dutta said, land up at Safdarjung Hospital in a day. "We are running out of medicines, intravenous fluids and saline drips," Dutta said.

The incessant rains lashing the city and the debris created by construction for the upcoming Commonwealth Games are the main reasons cited for the dengue outbreak in the capital. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has confirmed four deaths from the disease. Over 1,836 dengue cases have been recorded so far in Delhi.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital in Dilshad Garden in east Delhi attends to around 70 suspected dengue patients a day, though it has only 40 beds.
Inside, a dejected Neelima sits with her two children on the floor. Every once in a while she shuffles in the hope of finding a doctor, but then resumes her empty stare.

Her children, Reena, 7, and Nilesh, 4, are down with the disease. She has been trying to get an appointment with a doctor but with little success. Jobless, Neelima can`t afford to take her children to a well-equipped private hospital.

U.C. Verma, medical superintendent of the hospital, told IANS: "We are running out of space even after setting up a special ward with 32 beds for dengue. Every day, at least 70 patients throng the hospital with dengue symptoms."

Blood platelet supplies are falling short.

Vaishali Rajan, who works for the Rotary blood bank in Tughlaqabad, said: "The need for dengue platelets has increased manifold in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

"We regularly supply blood platelets to 25 hospitals in the city; now even government hospitals approach us and book in advance. In a day, over 40 units of blood platelets are supplied by us - if there is further need we contact other branches of Rotary."
The scene is no different at private hospitals.

In one such hospital in south Delhi, 14-year-old Jemima is curled up on a bed that she has to share with two other patients. As a nurse takes her blood sample, around 50 patients are in queue to occupy their portion of the beds.

Max Hospital, located at Patparganj in east Delhi, records at least 30 confirmed dengue cases a day.

According to MCD, the number of dengue cases this year will cross the 2006 figure of 3,366 cases.

The corporation has found a high density of mosquito breeding in the south and central areas of the city. So far, they have issued 45,532 notices to errant residents and housing societies and slapped 11,000 on a few for water-logging.

"Rain brings with it high chances of a dengue outbreak and the entire city is also dug up. The weather is conducive for breeding of the Aedes mosquito, which causes dengue," a senior official of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) said.
Dengue symptoms include high fever for four to five days, usually accompanied by severe headache, pain in the eyes, muscle and joint pain and rashes. After the fever goes away, the blood platelet count starts dipping which is the most dangerous phase of the disease.