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Indian Express
08 February 2011
By Manoj More

EXPRESS RTI REPORT Ventilators, ICU, operation theatre missing Non–functional airconditioners Shortage of staff, medicines
Sassoon Burns Ward: 3000 Women Admitted in 5 Years, 1900 Succumbed
OF 3,076 women admitted to govern ment–run Sassoon Hospital in the last five years, as many as 1,904 women succumbed to burns. Last year, 373 women died of burns which was the highest in five years, revealed an RTI query moved by The Indian Express.

Except for 2006, the death rate has been over 60 per cent. In 2006, of the 792 women admitted to the burns ward, 287 died. In 2007, of the 546 admitted, 357 died. In 2008, 596 women were admitted and 371 died. In 2009, of the 558 women admitted, 369 died.

In 2010, 579 women were admitted and 373 died. In the same year, of the 388 men admitted, 138 died.

The increasing burns cases among women are attributed to suicide bid by dousing kerosene, domestic violence, murder bid or accidental deaths. MLC Neelam Gorhe said, "Our Stree Aadhar Kendra has carried out several campaigns to generate awareness and extend help to women in distress. But a massive and coordinated effort is required from the government, women's welfare department and the police to reduce deaths of hapless women."

"There is shortage of medicines, doctors, nursing and servant staff, ventilators, cots and beds. ICU and operation theatre facilities are missing. There is also no sign of the promised skin bank. Doors and windows are broken," said Tushar Parekh of Jeevan Jyot, an NGO that recently installed water geysers and tubelights in the ward.

Describing the state of cots as "absolutely unusable," Parekh said at the Burns Man agement Committee meeting held on July 4 the then dean sanctioned stainless cots worth Rs 10 lakh. "Months later, nothing has moved," he said.

"Either the relatives bring the beds or the NGOs fulfill their requirement." Pointing out that not a single ventilator was available in the burns ward, Parekh said even the facility of piped oxygen through portable cylinder has not been ensured. "For months, now there is no full–time head of the department. No proper mechanism is in place which will help monitor the patients' condi tion. We are told that due to limited budget, medicine shortage persists," he said.

Dr Nilesh Panse, in–charge of the burns ward, said the deaths of burns patients was due to multi–factorial causes such as delay in treatment and absence of proper diet and nutrition. "Six months ago, the proposal for skin bank was placed but we awaiting government sanction," he said, adding that even patients with 60–70 per cent superficial burns have survived at the hospital. He said he has spoken to the PMC about non–functioning ACs which has promised to set them right.

Sassoon dean Dr Renu Bharadwaj told this paper that treating burns patients was an extremely difficult task and the doctors were doing their best. "Private hospitals shun patients who have suffered high degree burns. But we admit all such patients. Fifty per cent of them survive," she said. Regarding the bad cots, she said, "The orders had been placed long back and we expect new beds to arrive any time now." As for the absence of key facilities, she said once the new building comes up, everything would be taken care of.

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