Nizamia Unani General Hospital’s crumbling structure craves for attention from the authorities. The renovation works of this heritage structure has been a backburner for more than five years. Even this year, the government has allocated only Rs one crore for repair works.

According to official sources, the disrepair of the heritage structure is no secret and has been represented at regular intervals to the higher authorities’, but the matter remains pending by the consecutive governments. Even this year, the budget allocations remains low for building repair work, which is Rs 1 crore and Rs 1 crore for equipment and medicine. But even this budget utilisation, if allocations are made within the financial year, remains a question to be pondered.

Now the situation has to come to this far that even the water coolers has to be provided by the NGOs. “You can witness the structure by yourself. If we talk about developmental activities, you can see that the water coolers are being installed by NGOs,” said the official source, on condition of anonymity.

If one visits the hospital, the crumbling structure is visible at the ceiling in any of aisle. The hospital which was built more than eight decades ago has been providing service ever since it was constructed. Even to this day, the hospital serves pregnant women in cases of normal delivery. “My wife gave birth to baby boy and will be discharged as this is the third day. Poor still come here for normal deliveries and there if there is bleak chance of normal delivery they are referred to Petlaburj hospital or other government hospital,” said Shabbir, an auto driver.

Another problem the hospital continues to face is staff crunch and low supply of medicine. The staff which should have been 210 as per the requirement remains below 100 and unable to sustain the requirement of the historic hospital. More than five years ago it was proposed that this hospital near Charminar should be renovated but remains pending due to shortage of funds. The hospital, which was built in 1938 by Nizam Osman Ali Khan, has been known for its Unani treatment and alternative medicine practices for the last 80 years.

The one and the only government hospital offering Unani medicines in Andhra Pradesh, the Nizamia Tibbi Hospital in Hyderabad is facing a lot of problems including non-availability of Unani medicines, thanks to the gross neglect of the government and healthcare authorities in the state. Things have come to such a pass that the doctors have started prescribing allopathic medicines instead of Unani medicines.

Apart from the non-availability of Unani medicines, the sanitary condition in the hospital is also deteriorating and there are growing complaints from the patients regarding the pathetic conditions of facilities and sanitary conditions in the hospital.

Nizamia Tibbi is the only government hospital offering Unani medicine in Andhra Pradesh which is located at Charminar in the heart of Hyderabad. During the past few years there have been growing complaints from the patients regarding non-availability of Unani medicines in the hospital and the doctors are prescribing allopathic medicines and advising the patients to buy medicines from outside. Majority of the patients who visit this hospital are poor and do not have money to buy medicines from the outside pharmacy stores.

During the early days, the hospital was known for its regimental therapy, unorthodox methods like cupping, steam bath, cauterisation, emesis, diuresis and purgation. These methods are employed for treatment of various disorders like cervical and lumbar spondylosis. The Turkish bath is another sure-fire way of curing patients affected with paralysis, obesity, rheumatism and Parkinson’s disease. The ‘Garam Hamam’ used to be a hot favourite with patients. But over the years it has been left unused for want of minor repairs.

But today only the poor patients who cannot afford costly allopathic medicines are regular visitors of this hospital. As the poor and vulnerable patients cannot raise their voice of concern with the authorities, the conditions at the hospital are deteriorating day by day.

Moreover the sanitary conditions in hospital premises are also pathetic. The washrooms are not kept clean and are in horrible condition. The cement water tank is full of algae and the officials never bother to check regularly.

The hospital superintendent, Dr Mohd Rafi Ahmed, says “We have been facing lot of fund crunch and staff crunch. The hospital is provided with only Rs.50,000 per month for purchasing medicines for the out patients section. This amount is not sufficient to buy medicines, as the number of patients visiting hospital are growing every day. Recently the government has sanctioned Rs.3 lakh, but it would take some more time to release the amount.”

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The 200 year-old Nizamia Tibbia College of Hyderabad, once considered as the Harvard medical school of Asia, is fighting a battle for its existence, and a close observation, shows it is losing.

Post-Independence India seems to have an unannounced policy to get rid of signs of the Muslim era – they are left to die their natural death by not preserving them, unless it is a money minting machine like Taj Mahal or Red Fort.

The Government Nizamia Tibbia College of Hyderabad comes in the unfortunate category of the Muslim era signs. The 200-year-old Unani college and hospital is dying a slow and silent death. Not only the marvelous structure is falling in pieces, the institution therein is also lying on death-bed thanks to governmental apathy and monumental neglect.

Nizamia Tibbia College has a history dating back to 1810 when it was started by an Afghan scholar, Sajida Begum Majid. Then it was renovated and developed into a splendid structure in 1938 by 7th Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, and it was then transformed into a medical college and hospital.

Till the recent past it was known all over India for perfect and quality teaching in Unani medicine. The college provides all its education in Urdu medium. Located next to the historic Charminar in the heart of Hyderabad, the college has produced a number of Unani doctors and researchers to the community and to the nation.

Present worse than past
But after 74 years of formal existence, everything today seems not well for this historic medical college. Problems are glaring from every corner. The college building is in serious dilapidated condition. The internal politics of the management has brought the college down. There is hardly any good infrastructure facility available in the college. And adding to the long list of miseries, Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) — a statutory body under Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970 – last year cancelled the P.G. course which college was offering since 1978.

There are only two Unani medical colleges in the whole of Andhra Pradesh. One is Dr. Abdul Haq Unani Medical College in Kurnool – which is government aided – and the other is this Nizamia Tibbia College in Hyderabad, which is fully owned and run by the state government. Affiliated to Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, Vijayawada, only Nizamia Tibbia College was providing M.D. course in Unani medicine till 2010-2011 besides the UG course. Since the mid-70s the college started losing its shine due to the lack of interest by the government in maintaining the college with changing phase of time.

Infrastructural deficits
The college building is a heritage structure, but like its counterparts in the old city of Hyderabad its preservation is being grossly neglected by the authorities. Nearly every wall of the historic structure is damaged and cracks can be seen everywhere. Plants have grown on the walls and domes seriously causing damage to the historic structure.

There had been no development in the infrastructure facilities in the college since its formation. In fact, it got exhausted more in the recent past. There are no drinking water facilities for the students while there is only one washroom that is only for female students.

#KhabarLive spoke to some of the students in the medical college to know the situation. Asad Mohinuddin is a final year student, he is presently doing his internship in the college hospital. He said, “The existing college building is not being sufficient for both the Unani College and hospital. The patients’ beds are being put in college corridors, due to lack of space. The reason he said is the Ayurvedic hospital which has been shifted in the Unani hospital building by the government, and two floors and three wards have been taken away by the Ayurvedic hospital.

According to him, 1,500-2000 patients visit the hospital daily but due to the congested nature of the Unani hospital and college it is creating lots of disturbance for the students. When the students went on strike for nearly 80 days risking their studies demanding eviction of the Ayurveda hospital, the state Govt. promised a number of times to shift the Ayurvedic hospital. Even a new building has been constructed for them, but the promise has not yet been fulfilled. It is causing anxiety among the staff and students of Nizamia Tibbia College.”

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Another final year student Syed Sajid Basha said, he wanted to pursue M.D. course, because nowadays there is little demand for only Bachelor of Unani Medicine Science degree holder. But now as the CCIM has cancelled the M.D. course in the Nizamia college which was the only college in the state to provide this course he will have to go for other states.

Mohd Adil, another final year student said, that without M.D. degree in Unani he won’t be able to find a decent job in any hospital, so he has to open his own clinic and try his luck.

Then Asad added: This college is still good in Unani medicine studies, staff and teachers are also well experienced and good but the internal politics of the management is to be blamed for all the loss students are facing. He said there is no unity among the college management due to internal conflicts, so they can’t represent to the government their grievances effectively.

The library of the college contains valuable books on Unani medicine in Persian and Urdu languages. But there is no one to take care of them permanently. The post of the librarian is vacant for nearly 10 years. The college management provides some temporary arrangements in the due time. This is creating lots of problems for the students who want to utilize the ancient knowledge of Unani which has been enclosed in those historic books.

Faculty posts lying vacant for years
#KhabarLive spoke to the college principal Syed Arifuddin regarding the down phase which college is going through. He said there are 36 seats for the M.D. in 5 departments, which was cancelled by the CCIM due to the ‘shortcomings’. When we asked him what are those shortcomings, he said there are many faculty posts lying vacant for several years now — eight posts of professors, senior lecturers and readers are lying vacant in three departments.

It was the duty of the govt to fill up those posts but they are still lying vacant. He said, “it is nearly one year since we sent the proposal to the principal secretary, department of health and family welfare to fill up those posts but those bureaucrats have sat on the files and not clearing them, there is a clear bias against the Unani medicine in the government. It has been a decade since the government banned regular appointments but CCIM is insisting on regular faculty, but majority of the staff is on contractual basis.”

Regarding the dilapidated infrastructure in the college he said, the government department of Ayush, which controls the college on behalf of the Govt, is not releasing funds for the maintenance of the college building and infrastructure. Ending the discussion he said he is risking his job by talking on the issue.

Dr. Azeem Ahmed Sayeed is a professor of general studies in the college. He said the Department of Ayush which controls the whole administration of the college is not taking any interest in the unani medicine. The glorious past of the college is no more evident from the present condition of the college. There is a serious crunch of the staff.

Last year 5 professors got retired, till now those posts are vacant, next month 3 more professors will retire from the college. He said there is an urgent need for the new recruitments in the staff to support this dying medical college. He said all the students studying in the college are really good in studies. It is sad for him to see the future of those students getting spoiled by the inaction of the govt and college management.

Dr. Basheer Ahmed is a retired professor of physiology. He taught in the institution for 15 years before taking a voluntary retirement not bearing the internal politics 20 years ago. He told #KhabarLive that whenever he visits the college his heart burns up to witness the pathetic condition of the college.

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He said he always thought that internal politics and vast direct govt control are the biggest drawback of this historic institution, but he never thought those two reasons will be responsible for utterly sinking the college into a drain. He feels pity about the future of those Muslim students who are studying there, and those who are going to join them.

CCIM cancels M.D. course
Dr Ibrahim Ali Junaid graduated from this institution two years ago. Due to non-availability of M.D. course he was not able to study further. He told #KhabarLive, “I studied really hard for the M.D. entrance exam, I even paid the fees for the examination, but suddenly the CCIM cancelled the M.D. course. The decision of the body has cast a shadow on the career of several MD aspirants who had applied and prepared for the examination when the entrance test was suddenly cancelled.

He said there were 35 seats in this college for P.G. but now we lost it due to the inefficiency shown by the government. Now many students like me who want to study further have to go to other states and bear difficulties. Asked if he is hopeful that the college will retain those P.G. seats next year after the next annual inspection of CCIM, he replied in negative due to the lack of interest by the Govt and college management in fixing the irregularities.

Dr. Hyder Yameni is the general secretary of Unani medical officers association. He told #KhabarLive that, CCIM has been pointing out the inadequacies for the last three consecutive years and had recommended suspension of the PG course in the year 2010-11 itself, but the central government intervened and directed the state government to cover up the deficiencies. However, the state government continued its laxity even this year.

He said 11 posts out of the total 14 posts of professor and head of the department are lying vacant in the under graduation programme. Among the three professors, one will retire next month. Furthermore, CCIM is asking for regular faculty in the PG programme, but the entire faculty has been appointed on contract basis. He said even the principal of the college is being appointed on the temporary contractual basis, this is grossly violation of CCIM norms.

In June last year Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy sanctioned Rs 4 crore for the renovation work at Nizamia Tibbia College and Hospital. He had said, “I am sanctioning Rs 4 crore for the development of this unique hospital and college”, but still the sanctioned amount has not been put into use by the dept. of Ayush.

Ayush Dept. puts blame on health ministry
#KhabarLive tried to contact the commissioner of the dept. of Ayush, D. Aruna but her office said that she was away to Goa on election duty. #KhabarLive, however, spoke to Faisal Rehana, Additional Director (Unani) in the department of Ayush. When asked about the amount of Rs 4 crore sanctioned by the chief minister to restore the college building, she said, the amount will soon put into use.

The delay was due to unavailability of the tenders, she said. But one finds it really hard to believe that even after 8 months a govt department has failed to find a suitable tender. When asked about the cancellation of P.G course in the college, she said the cancellation of the course was due to vacancies in the staff. She said, “We have already given the application to the govt to fill up the vacancies, but file is just revolving in the department of health ministry.”

The sorry state of affairs in the oldest and biggest Unani medical college in the country shows the state government’s apathy towards Unani medicine education. This is a prime example of how the contribution of the Muslims in the education field is being hideously neglected by the Govt.

It is a fine example of monumental neglect by the Govt towards the age old learning. But at the end of the day it is young students who are becoming the victims of the silly blame game. The Nizamia Tibbia College, once considered as the Harvard medical school of Asia, is fighting a battle for its existence, and a close observation shows it is losing. #KhabarLive