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JNU student dies for want of facilities

delhi Updated: Sep 12, 2009 01:25 IST
Ritika Chopra

A student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) died on his way from the university to the hospital after he suffered an acute asthma attack on Wednesday night.

Though Aishwarya Agrawal (23), a first year Mtech student, had a history of asthma, his batchmates and seniors feel he could have been saved.

Earlier this year, the death of a student of Modern School, Vasant Vihar, under similar circumstances had put the spotlight on the preparedness of educational institutions to handle medical emergencies. With Wednesday's death, the debate is raging once again.

Agrawal had complained of breathlessness to his friends around 10 pm on Wednesday. His friends said the college ambulance in which he was taken to AIIMS arrived only 20 to 25 minutes after it was called.

And to make matters worse, the vehicle had no equipment -an oxygen cylinder or a Nebuliser (a device used to administer medicine in the form of a mist inhaled into the lungs).

“We were in the computer laboratory when Aishwarya complained of uneasiness. He asked me to go and fetch his medicine kit. I came back around 10.40 pm and he had his medicine. He then called his uncle to send a car and we called for the university ambulance. The ambulance arrived only 20 to 25 minutes later and we decided to take him to the hospital,” said Suraj Kumar, his classmate.

Agrawal was brought to the hospital about half an hour later (around 11.40 pm), by when his condition had worsened. He was declared dead within an hour of reaching AIIMS.

“Had the ambulance had an oxygen mask or even a Nebuliser, I am sure his chances of survival would have been much higher,” said Abhinandan Basu (24), a second year MTech student.

With JNU being a residential varsity, students have been demanding a proper ambulance and a 24-hour health centre to avoid any tragedy.

Currently, the campus health centre remains open from 8 am to 2 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm.

“The sad truth is that we can't do anything more than provide a vehicle service to our students as the UGC does not give us any grant to either run a 24X7 health centre or maintain an ambulance,” said B.B. Bhattacharya, Vice-Chancellor, JNU.