The deaths of four infants at a Madhya Pradesh immunisation centre last week could have been averted had the state government made good on its promises.
The infants died on March 12 after being administered the anti-measles vaccine by untrained hands at Damoh town, 350 km northeast of capital Bhopal.
Just a day earlier, Health Minister Anup Mishra had told the assembly that ‘auxiliary nurses and midwives’ (ANMs) — untrained women who have traditionally carried out various medical procedures, particularly in small towns and villages — should not be allowed to administer vaccines
“I am not satisfied with the implementation of the vaccination programme. We are making arrangements for its proper monitoring. The vaccinator should carry the vaccine. How can an ANM administer vaccine?” Mishra had said.
His promised arrangements were, however, found lacking at the Damoh centre.
An ANM, Durga Tiwari, did not maintain the right temperature while administering the vaccine, resulting in the deaths.
Durga was suspended along with four health officials, including a doctor. She has also been booked for criminal negligence.
The government is now looking to make amends. This is
the first time that a criminal case has been lodged against the state’s health department personnel in a case of gross negligence, said Mishra.
Officials have also been instructed to ensure there are no loopholes in the chain of vaccine transportation, he said.