Canine trouble in Delhi burdens GTB Hospital

Queues for injection, 150 new cases reported till noon

Canines in east Delhi region are having a field day, while hundreds of victims limp their way every day to GTB Hospital — area’s biggest government-run healthcare centre — either as new cases or to receive their scheduled dose of injections.

This leaves the out-patient department (OPD) of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital overcrowded every morning till late in the afternoon.

The number of people facing dog menace is quite high in the area which can be gauged from the fact that till noon on Monday, over 450 dog bite patients had visited the hospital to get injections, out of which 150 were new cases.

“I could have visited a private clinic, but they charge Rs 300 per injection. For people like us, this hospital is the only option,” said Mohammad Ajaz from Kardam Puri who was bitten by two stray dogs late night on Sunday.

Every time a dog bite victim visits the hospital, he does it at the cost of his day’s income. “I am willing to pay the authorities from my pocket to remove stray dogs from my colony,” said Ramesh Chand Mandoli. He was returning home by bike late at night a few days ago when some stray dogs bit him through his leather shoes.
Since the OPD is closed on Sunday, he is forced to take a day off from work only for the injections.

The situation burdens the limited number of doctors. The anti-vaccine and the anti-rabies serum rooms of the hospital have 3-4 doctors each who work tirelessly, and keep syringes ready even before a patient enters the room.

“The municipal corporations are responsible for this problem. They do not tackle dog menace properly and as a result, the hospital has to bear the brunt. We are barely able to handle the huge influx of patients,” said a medical officer at the hospital.
According to 2009 Census, there were 2,62,000 stray dogs in the city. Between April 1, 2012 and March 1 this year, MCD had reported 31,608 cases of dog bites, out of which 16 people died of rabies.

“But the actual figures are much more government hospitals and private hospitals do not share their data with us,” said an official of EDMC.

The East Delhi Municipal Corporation gets 10-15 calls from residents to pick dangerous stray dogs from residential areas for sterilisation. “We have two vehicles for this purpose, one each for the north and south zones. Apart from this, two NGOs work with us towards sterilising and immunising the strays. We pick up around 7-15 stray dogs every day,” said Dr Hari Lal, veterinary director.

“We can neither kill the dogs, nor can we confine them unless they are detected with rabies. After being sterilised, they are released at the same spot from where they were picked,” said Brahm Singh, a veterinary officer with EDMC.

Victims, however, tell a different story. “I have never seen a dog van in my area. Where do they pick the dogs from?” asked  Rajendra Pratap Singh, a resident of Seemapuri, who was bitten by a dog.

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