Doctors put off surgeries in drought-hit Marathwada

LATUR (TIP): In this district, which is one of the worst hit by the drought in Marathwada, a massive health crisis is just 15 days away, doctors there say.

The Manjra dam and the Dhanegaon river, that used to supply water to the five lakh people of the district, have gone dry.

Doctors and clinics in Marathwada have had to resort to using water from tankers, but that’s just not enough.

The lack of water has severely compromised cleanliness at hospitals and clinics, and with water from private tankers being far from clean, water-borne diseases are on the rise. Now, even the water tankers aren’t enough.

The situation is so dire that even the doctors who know better are using unsafe short cuts.

One doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that after washing his hands before a surgery, he collects the waste water and then uses it to clean bed sheets.

“I use the Autoclave method (passing it through high pressured steam) but still I know that this should not be done, but I have no other option.” said the doctor.

For every surgery, a surgeon and her assistants are required to wash their hands with soap for 10 minutes in running water. Now, they do that in a minute and then use betadine or other disinfectants to clean their hands.

All doctors in Latur that TOI spoke to said they are finding it difficult to treat patients without adequate water.

“We had dug three bore wells one of which was dug 700 feet within our hospital that used to give us half an hour of water each day. All of the bore wells ran dry in January this year. To conduct a surgery we don’t have the right amount of water to wash our hands.” said Dr Sanjay Warad who runs a maternity and surgical hospital.

Hospitals that used to be cleaned twice day are now just dry-mopped. With not enough water to wash sheets, hospitals are spending money on disposable linens.

Water supply to washbasin taps in all the hospitals has been shut. Patients and their relatives who look after them are being given just one 30 litre bucket of water a day for all their needs.

At first, many doctors made do with water from private tankers.

But now, all the 160-odd clinics or hospitals in Latur have drastically reduced the number of surgeries they perform and have planned. They will only operate if it’s an emergency.

There are some doctors, like Dr Snehal Deshmukh, who can’t postpone operations. Deshmukh is a gynaecologist who runs a maternity hospital in Latur.

“We can’t postpone deliveries,” she says, adding that women who’ve had caesarean deliveries are now being sent home after 4 days, compared with 5-7 days earlier.

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