A key Indian hospital run by the government and situated in the national capital, New Delhi, has been doing without such a basic requirement like cotton wool. And for the last ten months, it is reported.
When patients go to the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narain hospital, they are required to buy — apart from surgical gloves, plaster, bandages and medicines — bundles of cotton wool from the nearby row of medical stores that run a thriving business opposite the hospital, next to the car park.
But how did things come to this crazy pass? Apparently, cotton wool supplies have been irregular since May 2007, after the present medical superintendent, Dr Swaraj Batra, took over.
It's learned that the official cotton wool supplier had been blacklisted because of poor quality, and no new supplier is coming forward following "threats" from the blacklisted supplier, reveals the Times of India.
When contacted, Delhi's health minister, Yoganand Shastri, told the newspaper, ''We had blacklisted the previous cotton supplier and since then, there has been no supplier. We have given the medical superintendent the power to meet the requirement from the local market. If patients are forced to buy it from outside, we will take action. There shouldn't be any shortage of cotton in any department.''
Dr Swaraj Batra said, "I'm not aware of it (the shortage of cotton wool)."
The minister, however, assured that fresh tenders for a cotton supplier would be floated within 15 days.
Meanwhile, the situation in the hospital is appalling. All surgical wards are badly hit by the shortage, especially the orthopaedic department where cotton wool is used the most, says the newspaper.
"We are using cotton gauze instead of cotton wool to clean wounds. We have to ask the patient's family to buy cotton from outside for plaster and dressing purpose," said a senior doctor in the orthopaedic department. "Our daily requirement is anything between 60 and 100 rolls of cotton wool."
Rinku, 24, who fractured his right leg in an accident, was asked to buy cotton and bandages for the plaster. "We bought cotton and medicines from the outside shop. I was in pain, but the doctors didn't attend to me as they were waiting for my family members to get cotton for plastering," he said.