TB Sanatorium in Vikarabad languishing in neglect

Dearth of funds for maintenance turns facility into a pale shadow of its former self

A visit to the TB Sanatorium nestled in Anantagiri Hills of Vikarabad district is akin to walking through haunted premises. Patients and attendants move like shadows in the sparsely populated buildings, cooking their meals, carrying water and ailing on the rickety beds.

Heaps of rusting old cots welcome the visitors in the wards, indicating the disuse that the Nizam-era hospital-cum-retreat has fallen into. Sweeping and swabbing, too, is a luxury here.

“There is no funds for maintenance. We are buying brooms and detergents with our own money. We do not even have stock of injections such as Deriphyllin for emergencies,” a duty doctor said on the condition of anonymity.

“Recently, we faced an emergency situation, as water supply stopped due to technical glitch. The plumber on rolls had retired and nobody was available for immediate repair. We had to pool money and hire a plumber from outside. Meanwhile, over 50 patients had left,” an office subordinate recalled.

Deserted premises

The current number of patients does not exceed 50 in the 417-bed facility, where once upon a time, people used to be made to sleep on the verandah for lack of beds.

For 15 doctors and 150 paramedical and other staff earlier, now the sanatorium has only three doctors, and about 50 support staff. Of the three doctors, two are employed on contract basis. All the three are here on deputation, and the superintendent in-charge, who is also the District Immunisation Officer, hardly finds any time from his primary responsibilities, say the staff.

“I have not received payment for nine months. Feeding the patients two times a day, for payment of mere ₹56 per head per day is like feeding them almost for free,” complains diet contractor Sudhakar Reddy. Though the then government issued an order in 2006, raising the payment to ₹80 per head, it has not been implemented till now, he rues.

Despite growth in tuberculosis incidence, the sanatorium has been rendered redundant after launch of Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, which seeks to deliver the treatment to the patient’s doorstep. “Sanatorium is an old concept now, as sputum-positive patients too can be treated at home. The government is delivering medicines closer home, and patients are approaching tertiary hospitals for higher level care,” said the superintendent of the Government Chest Hospital at Erragadda, Mehboob Khan.

Till 10 to 12 years ago, the government had mulled building a medical college cum hospital as a tertiary facility on the160-acre premises, but there has not been any progress on this front.

Later, three of the seven wards were sought to be shifted to Ayush department, but the proposal did not take off.

Mortuary collapse

“We have no facilities even to keep dead bodies, as the mortuary has collapsed. By rule, we must keep any unclaimed body for 72 hours before disposing it off,” a staff member said.

Director of Public Health G. Srinivasa Rao, when approached, said the hospital has been downsized, but there is no dearth of funds for maintenance.

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