Plague, H1N1 & COVID-19... 123-year-old Dr Naidu Hospital combats contagious diseases

ST Correspondent
Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, in his talk with a nurse from Dr Naidu hospital, appreciated the role played by the hospital and its staff.

Since the first COVID-19 patient was found in Pune city, one name came up frequently and that was the Dr Naidu hospital. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, in his talk with a nurse from Dr Naidu hospital, appreciated the role played by the hospital and its staff. Ten years ago, when the Swine Flu reached Pune city, Dr Naidu hospital was the one where the patients were treated.

The plague epidemic started in Mumbai region in 1896. The first patient of plague in Pune was found in Rasta Peth on December 19, 1896, and the second patient was found in Kasba Peth on December 27, 1897. After February 24, 1897, it took the form of an epidemic. In just four years, that is upto year 1900, the plague took lives of 17,231 citizens of Pune. Since the plague was a contagious disease, citizens were shifted out of the city as a preventive measure. There was a shortage of healthcare facilities to get plague-infected patients admitted.

The then three local bodies - Pune Municipal Council, Pune Suburban (Pune Sub-Municipal Council) and Pune Cantonment, decided in 1900 to build a hospital for plague-infected patients outside the city. A place at the Sangam - a convergence of Mutha river flowing through Pune city and Mula river from Pimpri-Chinchwad, was identified to build the hospital. It was later used for treating all contagious diseases. This mention can be found in the 'Pune Nagar Sanstha Shatabdi Granth', a book written on the history and foundation of Pune Municipal Corporation by an intellectual Dr M. P. Mangudkar. This hospital is now known as Dr Naidu Infectious Diseases Hospital.

Although this hospital was 'outside' the city limits during the British era, now with more urbanisation Dr Naidu hospital has come in the middle of the city. Dr Naidu is said to be the head of the 'Plague Prevention Committee' which was established by the British in 1933. While not much is known about Dr Naidu, it is said that the hospital was named after him, to recognise his efforts to bring the Plague epidemic. The plague which peaked several times till 1940 under control, in the Pune region in the British era. In the 1934 peak, the plague epidemic killed 1,079 people in Pune alone. There was a shortage of mortuaries to keep the dead bodies of patients died due to plague. The local administration had then started a medical bulletin, in which the names of the deceased were displayed on a board outside the Vishrambaugwada.

With a history of about 123 years, even today, Naidu hospital is used for the treatment of the diseases whose vaccine is not available. Now after the COVIS-19 outbreak, special quarantine facilities have been created in the hospital.

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