Discrimination against HIV-positive people coming to the Khanna Civil Hospital is getting chronic. A woman who was waiting to deliver is the latest to be turned back.
In a complaint to the Ludhiana civil surgeon, Punjab Parent to Child Transmission (prevention) Programme district coordinator Dr Manpreet Singh has cited several other cases where HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) patients were denied treatment at the Khanna hospital. Demanding strict action against the doctors and senior medical officer concerned, he said: "On May 12, an outreach worker moved the woman to the Khanna facility, where members of its staff referred her to Rajindra Hospital in Patiala. They said it was a complicated case; even as she had normal delivery the same day in Patiala."
Doctors at the Khanna hospital discriminated against HIV-positive people as a rule, said Dr Manpreet Singh, adding: "In about four years, they have turned back 20 HIV-positive pregnant women, referring all the cases to other hospitals."
Dr Inderjeet Singh of Dr DN Kotnis Health and Education Centre and the Yuva Sabha and Palva group working with HIV patients said: "They continue doing it because the health department continues to take no action. In an earlier case, the SMO was let off with only a show-cause notice."
Ludhiana civil surgeon Dr Renu Chhatwal confirmed that she had received the complaint and said she had marked an inquiry. She had instructed all senior medical officers recently not to refer any HIV patient to other hospitals unless absolutely necessary.
Previous inquiry complete
District family welfare officer Dr Maninder Singh has completed an inquiry in Dr Manjeet Bajwa case, where a man had alleged that this gynecologist of Lord Mahavira Civil Hospital had declined to assist his wife in delivery because of her HIV-positive status. About a month ago, this complaint had come to the civil surgeon. The husband had been force to take the woman to a private hospital.
"The inquiry report has come to me," said the civil surgeon, "and I have forwarded it to the health director with my remarks for further action."