‘Never again’, says Nitish, on man carrying wife’s body on mobike; Purnia medical fraternity on notice
The Bihar chief minister said on Monday he had ordered health authorities to put in place an institutional mechanism to ensure arrangements were made to transport bodies of those who died in hospitals.india Updated: Jun 06, 2017 17:31 IST
PATNA/PURNIA Moved by media image of a man carrying the corpse of his wife on a motorcycle, after being denied a mortuary van by a hospital in Purnia in north eastern Bihar, chief minister Nitish Kumar said here on Monday steps were being taken to avoid a repetition of the incident.
“The health department is working on a policy to ensure proper arrangement to carry bodies of the dead from hospitals to their homes or to cremation ground, as the case may be, for those unable to afford the cost of transport,” Kumar told reporters of the sidelines of his weekly ’Lok Samvad’ programme.
The announcement came even as the Bihar government suspended Dr SK Verma, medical officer of the Purnia sadar hospital and issued show cause notices to MM Wasim (civil surgeon), Dr Sushila Das (deputy superintendent of hospital), Simpi Kumari (hospital manager) Brajesh K Singh (district programme manager).
They have been directed to explain the circumstances in which a labourer, Shankar Sah, 60, was forced to carry the body of his wife on a motorcycle, after she died in the Purnia district hospital, last Friday.
Kumar said adequate resources had to be put in place and specific guidelines needed to be issued to make government hospitals and private nursing homes accountable for arranging ambulances or any other means of transport to take the bodies of the deceased to their homes or the cremation ground.
“The government is dealing with this as a humane issue. Earlier, there was no arrangement for producing those in the police lock before a court. Now, there is special fund to cover the expenses of taking the nabbed persons to court and provide them food,” said the chief minister.
In ordering a policy to handle corpses emerging from hospitals, the chief minister appeared to have been moved by images of a daily wage worker, Shankar Sah, carrying the body of his wife from the Purnia sadar hospital to his native Ranibari village under Shrinagar police station of Punria, on a motorcycle, to perform her last rites.
The hospital had no working ambulance or mortuary van to take the deceased home and Sah ran short of money to bear the expense of hiring a private van at the cost of Rs 2,500.
Purnia additional district magistrate (ADM) Ravindra Nath, who inquired into the incident on the order of district magistrate Pankaj Kumar Pal, said the hospital authorities could not be absolved of responsibility in what had happened but ‘victim’ Shankar Sah too had erred by not giving them time to arrange for a vehicle.
But civil surgeon M M Wasim remained insistent the hospital was not to be blamed for what happened. In a letter to the executive director of the state health society, he said the woman’s family did not ask for any help from the hospital authorities. As such, there was no question of denial of help.
The Purnia incident happened just a day after news footage of the body of a destitute woman being wheeled in a garbage cart to the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur for post-mortem examination, caused an outrage and prompted the district authorities to initiate an inquiry.
Earlier, in March this year, relatives of another woman who died at the Muzaffarpur sadar hospital, were forced to carry her body on foot for about 500 metres before they could engage an autorickshaw to take it home. This, too, happened after they were allegedly denied an ambulance at the hospital.
The health department is working on a policy to ensure proper arrangement to carry bodies of the dead from hospitals to their homes or to cremation ground, as the case may be, for those unable to afford the cost of transport.
— NITISH KUMAR, chief minister