HIV+ blood transfusion: NHRC tells Punjab govt to give ₹4 lakh relief to two families
Ten months after the state government refused to compensate four minor thalassaemia patients for transfusion of HIV-infected blood at the Bathinda district hospital, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Punjab chief secretary to release a grant of ₹4 lakh to two affected families.
The commission passed the order on July 20 while hearing a complaint filed by a Jalandhar-based activist Kulwant Singh Nagra.
In a series of reports last year, HT had highlighted that five persons, including four thalassaemia patients aged between 7 and 13, being treated at Bhai Shaheed Bhai Mani Civil Hospital, Bathinda, were found HIV positive.
Two investigations by separate panels of medical experts had found three persons, including a sacked doctor, guilty of issuing blood of an HIV+ person without checking it, to two patients including, a seven-year-old thalaessemic patient, since May last year.
The internal inquiry found that the ex-blood bank officials were negligent on two counts. First, they did not check the blood before issuing it and they did not alert the patient and the hospital administration about the goof-up.
However, the state health department refused to compensate the affected minor children even as serious medical and administrative lapses at the government blood bank came to the fore.
Meanwhile, the NHRC observed that “the state has failed and thus as a consequence, is liable for any omission or commission on the part of its employees, which in the instant case also falls within the domain of criminal act too as HIV-infected blood was knowingly allowed to be transfused to otherwise healthy patients, including a seven-year-old girl that time.”
On April 1, the commission had issued a notice to the Punjab government on granting compensation but it did not receive any reply from the chief secretary even after a deadline of six weeks.
“The commission observes that the reply to the show-cause notice from the CS is still awaited despite considerable lapse of time. In the circumstances, the NHRC presumes that the state has no objection to the recommendation of (granting compensation). The commission directs the CS to submit a compliance report along with proof of payment within four weeks, failing which the commission will call for the personal appearance of the authority concerned,” the order states.
Vice-president of the Thalassaemia Welfare Society Mahinder Makkar said they would approach the NHRC to award compensation to the rest of the three patients who were wrongfully infused infected the blood.