Delhi hospitals to take in more doctors, staff to tackle dengue outbreak

New Delhi: Grappling with the worst dengue outbreak in five years, Delhi government on wednesday issued a 'blanket order' giving its hospitals powers to employ more doctors and nursing staff and directed private hospitals to increase bed capacity to deal with rising cases of the vector-borne disease.

Warning private hospitals of strict action if they turn away any dengue patient, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said they must stabilise the affected persons and make necessary arrangements for their treatment.

As hospitals continued to be inundated by dengue patients, he said Delhi Government-run facilities have been ordered to increase beds by 1,000 by Sunday while private ones too have been told to increase capacity.

Currently, the total bed capacity of city hospitals is around 50,000 which include 10,000 beds in Delhi Government-run hospitals and 20,000 in private hospitals. The hospitals run by municipal corporations and Centre have a capacity of 10,000 beds each.

"Private hospitals have been asked to increase capacity by 10 to 20 per cent. Even a rise of 2,500 in the number of beds in private hospitals would be a big jump," Jain said. He said all the hospitals have been told to also use the beds exclusively kept for disasters.

"A blanket order has been issued giving hospitals powers to buy more beds, employ more doctors, nurses and paramedic staff depending on their requirement. All arrangements have been made to ensure best possible treatment to dengue patients," he said. He said strict action will be taken against hospitals refusing to offer treatment to any dengue patient. The Minister said more dengue testing kits are being procured and private hospitals have been asked not to charge more than Rs 600 for the test which is free in government facilities.

Asked whether Centre was unhappy with the Delhi government's handling of dengue crisis, Jain said Union Health Minister J P Nadda has praised the city government for the way it is tackling the situation.

"I had spoken to him. There is no question of the Centre being unhappy. In fact they have praised our work," said Jain. So far 11 people have died of dengue and over 1,900 have been affected by it. There has been widespread outrage in the city after Avinash Rout, a 7-year-old, and 6-year-old Aman Sharma died of dengue last week after allegedly being denied treatment by private hospitals. Avinash's parents committed suicide following his death.

Appealing to people not to panic, the Minister said patients should leave it to the doctors whether they need admission in hospital or not. "People are in panic and government is responding to the situation effectively. I appeal to people not to go for self medication and consult doctors if they have fever," he said, adding there was no 'dengue epidemic' in the city.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said his government was mulling bringing a law to enable temporary takeover of private hospitals during emergencies.

The AAP government had also announced 1031 as dengue helpline yesterday to help people in getting treatment and answer their queries relating to the disease.

The Delhi Cabinet held an emergency meeting last evening which reviewed the deteriorating situation. It also explored various options to ensure that private hospitals do not refuse to admit dengue patients.

As a precautionary measure, Delhi government has directed all schools to ensure that children come to school dressed in full sleeves shirts, trousers and salwar kameez for the next one month as a preventive measure to avoid mosquito bites.

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