Osmania Hospital Flooding: How Will We Defeat the Pandemic if We Can’t Beat the Rain?

Social Commentary

Osmania Hospital Flooding: How Will We Defeat the Pandemic if We Can’t Beat the Rain?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

As heavy rains lashed Hyderabad this week, a shocking scene came to pass at Osmania General Hospital. As drains in the city overflowed in the downpour, the wards of Osmania Hospital became waterlogged. Doctors, staff, patients, and visitors alike had to spend time in flooded rooms waiting for the waters to recede.

This happened not once, but twice, first on Monday, and then again on Wednesday. Photographs and videos of the abject conditions at the hospital made their way on to the internet and went viral, causing much embarrassment to the Telangana state government.

Osmania Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in Telangana, and is a heritage structure with a legacy of over 100 years of serving the people of Hyderabad. Osmania Hospital was built in 1910 by Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of the princely state of Hyderabad.

At over a century old, there have been concerns about the building’s fitness to house a hospital. In 2015, there were attempts to demolish the hospital and replace it with a new structure that were met with opposition from heritage activists. Now, Osmania Hospital’s long and storied history has reached a low point, as rainwater and sewage seeped into the wards.

The fact that a hospital can be vulnerable to such occurrences as flooding does not bode well for anybody in the middle of a global pandemic. The already overworked medical professionals at Osmania Hospital will now also have to put up with inhuman working conditions atop everything else. There is also the threat of water-borne diseases breaking out in the hospital itself due to the untreated floodwater filling the wards.

Clips of floodwater flowing down the stairs at Osmania Hospital, or of doctors and patients struggling to make the best of a horrid situation paint a bleak picture of the hospital’s preparedness to tackle even inclement weather, let alone a pandemic.