ISKCON to provide TB Hospital patients with wholesome food

ISKCON to provide TB Hospital patients with wholesome food
ISKCON’s kitchen at Tardeo where mid-day meals are prepared. The society will soon set up a kitchen at Sewree’s TB Hospital
Hygiene, nutrition and good taste are the mantras of ISKCON cooks, who will set up canteen at Sewree's TB Hospital, which has come under fire for its poor hygiene and bad food.

Patients at Sewree's TB Hospital will soon be fed hygienic, protein-rich food specially prepared by cooks from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Keeping in mind that patients need wholesome meals to improve their health, BMC has asked ISKCON to set up a kitchen at the 1,000-bed hospital, that has recently come under fire for bad food and poor hygiene.

A team of ISKCON's food relief foundation, that provides mid-day meals in civic schools, visited the hospital and reviewed its kitchen a fortnight ago. "Good diet is extremely important for TB patients. We want them to get a hygienic and nutritious diet and ISKCON is known for that," said Dr Suhasini Nagda, director of civic hospitals.

At present, patients are served two slices of bread and tea at 5.30 am and in the evening. At 8.30 am they get a glass of milk and two eggs, and are given one vegetable, daal, rice and two slices of bread for lunch and dinner. "The food is sufficient, but the quality pathetic. The daal and vegetable is watery and tasteless, and no attention is paid to taste, nutrition and hygiene," said a doctor, adding that finding strands of hair in food is the commonest complaint. Often, the same food is served for lunch and dinner.

Administrative advisor of ISKCON's food relief foundation, Radhakrishna Das said that hygiene, nutrition and good taste are the mantras of their cooks. "These are things we never compromise on. We also agreed to run the Cooper Hospital kitchen. While the cost at Cooper is fixed at Rs 85 per patient per day, we are working out details for TB Hospital," Das said. "Eggs for patients will be managed by the hospital, while we will provide vegetarian food."

While ISKCON is known for the nutritious kichadi served as prasad in their temples, at TB Hospital they will cook simple food including soya beans, rajma, seasonal vegetables, etc that make for a wholesome meal. They also plan to replace bread with whole wheat rotis.

The initiative has not gone down well with the hospital's employee union who fear the existing 46 cooks and assistants will lose their jobs. However, Medical Superintendent Dr Rajendra Nanavare said, "We will not let that happen. We have asked the authorities to accommodate the staff in KEM, Sion, Nair or other hospitals," he said.

Incidentally, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan launched the country's first National Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance Survey, India 2014-15 in New Delhi on Saturday. Speaking at the launch, Vardhan said, "TB is a national emergency. India accounts for 99,000 of the global burden of 3,90,000 multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB cases. While the mortality associated with this TB form is higher than drug-susceptible TB, now, an even bigger challenge has emerged called 'extensively drug-resistant TB'."

Wards to have TV sets

After a spate of suicides at TB Hospital, BMC plans to install TV sets in wards to keep patients occupied. "They need to distract their minds from the disease. Watching TV can be arelief for them, and we will soon put up sets in wards," Dr Nagda said.

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