Spit and get beaten up: Kolkata hospital’s sanitation campaign

January 22nd, 2009 - 10:06 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 22 (IANS) Spit and you will be beaten up. That’s the message a poster put up at a premier state-run hospital here conveys.Attempting to stop visitors from spitting inside its premises, the West Bengal government-run SSKM Hospital authorities here have put up a poster that reads: “Those who spit inside the hospital will be beaten up”. The poster is in English and Bengali.

“This is an initiative taken by the department of gastroenterology about 15 days back to stop patients and their relatives or friends from spitting inside the hospital wards and corridors. For the first time a government hospital here has taken such a step,” Hospital Superintendent Ashok Kumar Ghosh told IANS.

“Most of our patients come from rural areas or from backward classes. And as a habit they spit chewed tobacco and betel leaf juice not only within the premises but also inside the wards and at corridors. In fact, the condition of the outdoor wards is worst.”

Ghosh said although the hospital is given a thorough cleaning regularly, it is not a permanent solution.

“We whitewash the tartar-stained walls and clean the floors regularly. But the very next moment, someone again makes it dirty.”

Even repeated requests to the visitors yielded no results.

“Reaching the edge of disgust, we made such a stern statement on the poster,” Ghosh said.

The poster has been put up in front of the department of gastroentorology.

“Though no visitor has directly commented on this poster so far, we are expecting that somebody will do so soon,” Ghosh said. “There will be lots of negative reactions since the language used in the poster is not a gentle one.”

However, Ghosh feels the visitors should understand that it’s for their own good.

“Spitting is synonymous with spreading germs and infections. The visitors should understand that their bad habit will adversely affect all patients.”

At the same time, Ghosh clarified that no patient or visitor will be beaten up even if they violate the rules.

“No hospital can beat up a patient or any visitor. Of course, we won’t go by what is said in the poster - its’ an exaggeration. We are just trying to scare them so that they will think twice before spitting.

“Besides, no one would have cared to read what is written in the poster if it was a regular one saying ‘Don’t spit’. It’s the strong language and the threat that’s drawing attention,” said Ghosh.

However, the hospital superintendent said no dramatic change is seen among the visitors, despite the poster.

“It’s too early to expect any change in the behavioural pattern of the visitors, especially when every day there are new patients and visitors. But at least, people are taking interest in reading the poster.”

“We intend to make the poster permanent inside the hospital but if there are too many objections from the visitors, we may have to soften the statement. After all, hygiene consciousness depends on the education and family background of the people and no poster can perform magic.”

(Sreya Basu can be contacted at sreya.b@ians.in)

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