Published: 23rd June 2022
JNU Health Centre not fully functional; students write to VC highlighting their concerns
JNU notified that the health centre would be functional 24X7, but students claim that the facilities are insufficient. They have been asking for improvements in the centre before COVID-19
As the Jawaharlal Nehru University opened its campus last week, the students are displeased with the condition of the Health Centre inside the campus. It has been alleged that this centre lacks infrastructure and professionals, as well as proper maintenance and facilities. Students said that the centre is still not properly functional and it was not feasible to have it functioning in its present condition. AISA (All India Students' Association) has penned a letter to JNU’s VC Prof. Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit regarding the matter. But there has been no response from her, as yet.
The university issued a notification on June 14 that the Health Centre would be functional 24X7. According to a press release by AISA, “While this was touted as student-friendly 'reforms', the notification was absolutely quiet on restarting the facility of Special OPDs (such as orthopaedics, dental, ENT, gynaecology, etc.). The notification was also quiet on the need for psychiatrists and psychologists. As of now, only one counsellor is available and, that too, only in the evening. For every health issue, students are referred to Safdarjung Hospital due to non-availability of specialists.”
Speaking about the problems in detail regarding the Health Centre, Madhurima Kundu, Secretary, JNU AISA, said, “The administration came out with a circular that the health centre would function 24X7 in three shifts, from 6 am-2 pm, then 2 pm-10 pm and then from 10 pm-6 am. The university has designated a regular doctor to be on duty every day and, currently, only three regular doctors are appointed. This means that the doctors would have to work without any rest. If doctors are overworked, it will lead to students and patients being affected. And the university won’t take any responsibility if students suffer.”
“There are also no ICU beds. And the OPD services are available in two shifts, the morning and evening shifts, from 8 am-2 pm and then 3 pm-9 pm, respectively. There is only one doctor for both shifts. Doctors in all Delhi hospitals work in a 8 am-8 pm shift and the next day, they have a day off. JNU has actually violated all the state rules for medical colleges and hospitals. The female nurses working at the health centre have to stay at night till 6 o’clock in the morning. There is no safe transport for ferrying them or any other facility,” she added.
Madhurima said further, “We want more ICU beds and we want the centre to function 24X7 but not with overworked doctors. There are also no specialist doctors. And the health centre is in such a state that it is not able to treat even common diseases. The university has just no facilities to treat the patients on the campus. For a dog bite, students are sent to Safdarjung Hospital. And for malaria and dengue also students are treated outside. Moreover, the two malaria workers in charge of preventing the growth of mosquitoes in the university are engaged in other work.”
The demands to improve the healthcare centre facilities are not new. The students had been asking for them before COVID-19 and the lockdown. “In pre-COVID times, however, there were better OPD facilities. We had Orthopaedics and Dental facilities. But now these facilities have not been reopened. And the infrastructure has been degraded, whereas the university should have maintained it on priority keeping in view the importance of a health centre during COVID,” informed Madhurima.
“As per the notice of the Delhi High Court, every institution should have an isolation centre. But JNU has none. When the court notice came out, the university announced an isolation centre but it was never functional. The university simply doesn’t want to spend on healthcare. And improvements cannot take place without any input of money,” she stated.