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    NIH, Kolkata Reputation at Stake

    KOLKATA: While Modi government is focused on promoting Ayush, the country's only homeopathy college and hospital - National Institute of Homeopathy at Kolkata is left in the lurch. Although the institute still draws students from countries like Sri Lanka, Russia and Nepal, continuous student's protest against authorities and lack of infrastructural facilities have put the institute's reputation at stake.

    The building is in shambles with plasters coming off from several places and a nonfunctional lift for last three years forcing patients to walk up the stairs, instruments are lying unused and surgery room remains locked in absence of any surgeon. There is a labour room but it has not been used for years. Stretchers and wheelchairs are rarely seen at the hospital premise and a single ambulance shuttles to places for reasons unknown.

    Months back the demand of a better hospital and academic ambience had prompted students to go on a relay hunger strike for 134 days. Walls of the main building leading up to principal's chamber on the second floor are filled with graffiti demanding removal of Samir K Nanda, Principal of the institution. Students allege that despite being one of the largest Homeopathy hospital in Asia, no national - level seminar or workshop has been organized so far. Departments allegedly do not have adequate faculty and students do not have any provision for house staff ship at the hospital.

    But the authorities have put the onus on the students and more than 20 complaints were lodged with the police against students when the director felt 'threatened'. "In which institution do you see such a canard against a principal? I am trying to work for the betterment of the institution despite that," said Nanda.

    Although the bulk of students and faculty TOI spoke to refused to put their faith in Nanda, the principal has answers to allegations against the management. "We are coming up with a new eight storey building. It was supposed to be complete by May but that has been delayed and likely to be complete by December this year. We are also adding 150 more beds to 100 bed facility at present," he said.

    Students withdrew their hunger strike after BJP leader Rupa Ganguly stepped in and promised to take up the issue with the ministry. "It all started with attendance issue which stopped students from sitting in exam. Later other issues like facilities for academics and hospital were added to it," Ganguly said. "Central teams have visited the institution. But have they visited the hostel or the hospital building?" she added.

    While the faculty has also alleged that lack of infrastructure like test facilities and non-availability of medicines have pushed patients away, authorities pass the buck on the doctors. "What can we do if the doctors do not admit patients. New dispensary has been complete and anatomy department is under renovation," Nanda said. But that does not solve the problem of the operation theatre without a surgeon, or a non-functional labour room. "The attending surgeon has retired and we are planning to take surgeons on a contractual basis," he said.

    Around 1,500 patients are attended at the out-patient department every day and a bulk of them are from the lower economic background. "For many of them doing tests outside or purchasing medicines is not possible. The problem of medicines or tests are nothing new and similar problems continued since 2013," said Akshilesh Das, intern at the hospital. Data from the annual report of the institute is a tell-tale sign for the hospital's performance. Number of patients in in-patient department has dropped from 1,012 in 2009-10 to 802 in 2012-13 and 611 in 2014-15. Monthly average of bed occupancy at the IPD is abysmally low at 30.7 per cent.

    Source: Times of India

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