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In pictures: India’s sick find shelter in abandoned buses

January 19, 2014

Habiba Khatun, 8, sits inside an abandoned bus used as a makeshift night shelter outside the All India Institute of Medical Science in New Delhi. The capital’s steep hotel and rental prices force scores to sleep on pavements around AIIMS, India’s most prestigious public hospital. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Habiba Khatun, 8, sits inside an abandoned bus used as a makeshift night shelter outside the All India Institute of Medical Science in New Delhi. The capital’s steep hotel and rental prices force scores to sleep on pavements around AIIMS, India’s most prestigious public hospital. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
A lack of beds in government hospitals for its large numbers of patients has long been a problem in India. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
A lack of beds in government hospitals for its large numbers of patients has long been a problem in India. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Sudeep Kumar, 9, centre, lies alongside family members and others inside a bus outside AIIMS. Prerna, a non-profit group tasked with running the shelters, estimates that about 4,000 patients live in the open outside various government hospitals in New Delhi alone. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Sudeep Kumar, 9, centre, lies alongside family members and others inside a bus outside AIIMS. Prerna, a non-profit group tasked with running the shelters, estimates that about 4,000 patients live in the open outside various government hospitals in New Delhi alone. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Public spending on health in the world’s second most populous country is just four per cent of GDP, less than Afghanistan’s, according to the World Health Organization. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Public spending on health in the world’s second most populous country is just four per cent of GDP, less than Afghanistan’s, according to the World Health Organization. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Anil Kumar, 16, inside one of the buses. A decade of rapid economic growth has allowed the national government to boost health spending for poor and rural communities. But the public health system still falls far short of meeting the needs of its 1.2 billion people, according to a 2013 Oxfam report. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Anil Kumar, 16, inside one of the buses. A decade of rapid economic growth has allowed the national government to boost health spending for poor and rural communities. But the public health system still falls far short of meeting the needs of its 1.2 billion people, according to a 2013 Oxfam report. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
The buses have been stripped of their seats so patients can sleep on the floor. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
The buses have been stripped of their seats so patients can sleep on the floor. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Poonam Devi, 40, a cervical cancer patient, takes shelter in a bus. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Poonam Devi, 40, a cervical cancer patient, takes shelter in a bus. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
“We look after four buses outside the AIIMS hospital and they are all jam packed,” said Palvinder Singh, director of the Prerna charity. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
“We look after four buses outside the AIIMS hospital and they are all jam packed,” said Palvinder Singh, director of the Prerna charity. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
“There are limitations on living inside buses. You can’t cook and you have to travel to the nearest public toilet. “But people inside are still happy, and more and more want to be accommodated in there,” Mr Singh said. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
“There are limitations on living inside buses. You can’t cook and you have to travel to the nearest public toilet.

“But people inside are still happy, and more and more want to be accommodated in there,” Mr Singh said. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Sajjad Hussain / AFP

With temperatures dropping at night to around 4°C, the newly elected Delhi government this month donated seven old, public buses for use as shelters outside hospitals.