The state’s premier medical institute, the Goa Medical College (GMC) and Hospital which caters to more than 900 outpatients and admits nearly 200 inpatients per day, besides a whole lot of relatives, friends and as well as medical students and staff relies on just three functioning canteens, neither of which functions for twenty-four hours a day.
While the issue has been simmering for a while now, Health Minister Laxmikant Parsekar’s reply in the assembly that there are eight canteens “existing” at the GMC is bound to throw up a debate on why the rest of the canteens are not functioning.
Herald reporters have personally verified that there are just three canteens functioning — one towards the back of the hospital campus, the second called as ‘Aunty’s canteen’, and the third run by Nescafe in front of the hospital all of which are woefully inadequate to cater to the huge number of persons who walk in and out and stay at the hospital. The other five are not functioning.
The question was raised by Porvorim legislator Rohan Khaunte, who questioned the lack of a 24-hour canteen service within the premises.
“Will the minister for health be pleased to state, whether it is a fact that doctors and nurses are drafted for duty during night hours and have to work without food on account of non-availability of canteen facilities during night hours? ,” part of Khaunte’s question reads.
The minister replied that “There is a proposal to have two canteens open for 24 hours” and that currently all the canteens close by 10 pm.
However, the reply could be misconstrued that “existence” of eight canteens could mean the ‘functioning’ of eight canteens, which isn’t true — just two canteens function.
The lack of adequate food within the GMC premises has led to a mushrooming of a mini market outside the main gate of the GMC complex selling deep-fried Indian snacks, fruits as well as beverages and find their main buyers in the form of relatives of patients as well as outpatients, students and GMC staff.
A doctor speaking to Herald on condition of anonymity said that at late hours~during breaks from duty~they have no option, but to go out and hunt for 24-hours snack joints to satisfy their hunger pangs , sometimes even being forced to drive to Panjim.
“There is nothing better than having a good, clean 24-hour canteen service running within the GMC premises,” the doctor said adding that the present canteen was not only small but also unhygienic and badly maintained.
Doctors and patients have also called for a wider menu to be made available to them.
“Some of the stuff that is served there, does not inspire an appetite,” the doctor said, rueing why it is taking so long for successive governments to act in the matter. [H]