Mugda Medical College Hospital is about seven years old only and its buildings are all quite new. Yet the hospital is unclean, garbage strewn both inside and outside, and water accumulating here and there.
The government disease control unit has said that the presence of Aedes mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus is at a high risk level in this hospital.
During a visit to the hospital at around 9:30 Friday morning, a banner of the medical college’s principal, Shah Golam Nabi, caught the eye. It read, “Discard unnecessary water around your house, cover all water containers.”
The principal used this message to raise people’s awareness regarding Aedes mosquitoes and dengue, but the local people and hospital staff say that the road in front of the hospital becomes water-logged at the slightest of rain. Water gathers on the hospital grounds too.
Around 10 cleaners were seen struggling to clear away garbage that had accumulated over quite a few days.
One of the woman cleaners said, “Something has happened and that is why we have been told to clean the entire place.”
Water had accumulated on almost every floor of the hospital. Old medicine bottles, water bottles, polythene, medicine packets, rags, buckets full of water and coconut shells were piled up in a gap between two walls. The skull of a slaughtered cow was also seen there.
On the fourth floor of the hospital, where the director’s office is located, water had accumulated in a flower garden there. Water had also gathered where parts of the hospital complex remained under construction.
According to a survey of the government disease control unit, Aedes mosquito larvae was found in 80 per cent of the empty containers lying in and around the hospital. The inside and outside of the hospital is perfect for mosquitoes to breed.
The disease control unit carried out a survey from 31 July to 4 August in 14 areas of Dhaka and a dangerous level of larvae was found in 12 of the places.
If Aedes mosquito larvae is found in 20 per cent of the discarded containers in any locality, that is considered a high-risk area.
Dhaka Medical College Hospital was among one of the three areas where there were Aedes larvae in 60 to 80 per cent of the discarded containers included.
Officials of the disease control unit said that they had informed the two Dhaka city corporations of the results a couple of days after the survey was run.
Prothom Alo correspondents on Friday visited the Mugda hospital, Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Mitford Hospital, Shaheed Suhrawardy Hospital, Shishu Hospital, Dhaka Mahanagar Hospital and, outside of Dhaka, the medical college hospitals of Chattogram, Khulna, Mymensingh, Rajshahi and Bogura.
Prothom Alo correspondents also visited government hospitals in Gazipur, Manikganj and Faridpur districts.
The condition of almost all these hospitals was unhygienic with water and garbage accumulated in different places. It was obvious that the hospitals hadn’t been cleaned for long.
Director general of the health directorate Abul Kalam Azad told Prothom Alo, “We had issued directives to all hospitals about maintaining cleanliness and hygiene. They followed the directives too. These matters cannot be monitored every day. Sometimes some places skip attention, but we are sincere in our efforts.”
Dengu patients are kept on the floors 8, 9 and 10 at the Mugda hospital. According to official records, 385 dengue patients were admitted to the hospital on Friday. This year 2,197 dengue patients were treated at this hospital so far.
At a recent event organised by the hospital, in the presence of the health minister, the locality’s member of parliament Saber Hossain Chowdhury said that 11 dengue patients had died in hospitals this year.
There were around 100 patients outside the ward on the 10th floor. The nurses were extremely busy, with hardly time to talk. There were no physicians available for comment. The principal of the medical college was also unavailable over mobile phone.
Director of the hospital Amin Ahmed Khan said there were posts vacant for physicians at the hospital. With the increased number of dengue patients, the physicians and nurses were under extreme pressure. Physicians were supposed to be provided from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, but they hadn’t joined as yet.
The patients were satisfied with the treatment they were receiving at the hospital, but not with the environment. Several of them said that there were mosquitoes all over the place. A number of patients on the 10th floor were using mosquito nets. Many didn’t get mosquito nets. Many avoided using the nets because it was too hot.
The director admitted the mosquito menace. He said the hospital was located on low land and water accumulated at the slightest of rain. Water also gathered in the under-construction parts of the hospital. He said that so far 10 nurses and 12 physicians of the hospital were afflicted with dengue.
Entomologist Manzur Chowdhury told Prothom Alo, “There are a lot of Aedes mosquitoes in hospitals like the one in Mugda. They bite dengue patients and spread the virus to others. This is evident in the number of physicians and nurses with dengue fever.”