Forty eight hours after a fire snuffed out three lives, including that of a 3-year-old baby, at the Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital, the country’s apex medical body threatened to withhold approval for undergraduate MBBS course at the facility from the next academic session if doesn’t adopt necessary fire safety measures to prevent such incidents.
The Medical Council of India (MCI), which oversees medical education and infrastructure facilities at all teaching hospitals across the country, said it may withhold approval to MBBS course at the state-run hospital if it fails to address loopholes in its preparedness for such incidents. The Council will soon seek a report from the state health department, led by Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in this regard.
“We’ve taken a serious note of the incident. Our ethics committee, comprising representatives from all states, will soon meet to discuss the issue. The safety of patients, their relatives and hospital staff are of paramount importance. Such incidents can’t be taken lightly,” Ashoke Kumar Harit, deputy secretary (administration), MCI, told HT from Delhi on Sunday.
“We will seek a report from the (state) health department on the fire prevention systems at all medical colleges in Bengal. We may also send inspection teams to these hospitals to take stock of the situation. Fire safety arrangement is the most critical requirement to getting an MCI sanction for setting up a medical college,” Harit said.
An MCI official said the Council will soon make it mandatory for all existing and proposed teaching hospitals across the country to follow fire safety guidelines.
The health department has already started a ‘fire audit’ in all state-run medical colleges in the city and districts in the wake of the Murshidabad incident.
“We’ve made adequate arrangements at all government hospitals to prevent such incidents. The CID has been assigned to probe the Berhampore incident. I don’t wish to make any further comments,” Susanta Banerjee, director of state medical education who oversees operations at all teaching hospitals, said.
However, some senior officials at Swasthya Bhaban, the headquarters of the state health department, called for an overhaul of the existing fire fighting system at all teaching and non-teaching hospitals. Sources said both the health and fire services departments have failed to arrive at a common ground on fire safety at healthcare facilities close to five years after a blaze at the AMRI Hospitals in Dhakuria, one of the worst such incidents in the country, left 93 dead including patients and staff.
Senior health officials said most state hospitals lack fire extinguishers, emergency exit points and adequate water supply system that are critical to mounting an emergency response to fire hazards.