DCW demands police action against north Delhi health department over diphtheria deaths

Published on Jan 23, 2019 02:30 PM IST

In a statement on Tuesday, the commission said the report submitted by the corporation showed that the hospital “delayed” procurement of vaccines and lacked adequate infrastructure for handling diphtheria cases.

DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal, on January 22, 2019, said the commission has approached Delhi Police to register a case for criminal negligence and mismanagement in the diphtheria death cases.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)
DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal, on January 22, 2019, said the commission has approached Delhi Police to register a case for criminal negligence and mismanagement in the diphtheria death cases.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on Tuesday asked Delhi Police to register a case of criminal negligence against north body health department and its Maharishi Valmiki Hospital for what it called serious lapses that led to the deaths of 21 children due to diphtheria in September last year.

The recommendation by the women’s body was made on the basis of a report submitted by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation on December 27, 2018. DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal, said, “In view of the findings, we have approached Delhi Police to register a case for criminal negligence and mismanagement in the cases. They are required to submit an action taken report in the matter latest by January 31.”

The DCW had issued a notice to the municipal body, taking cognisance of the deaths of 21 children at the Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital (MVIDH) between September 6 and September 19 last year.

In a statement on Tuesday, the commission said the report submitted by the corporation showed that the hospital “delayed” procurement of vaccines and lacked adequate infrastructure for handling diphtheria cases.

Diphtheria is an infectious disease that primarily infects the throat and upper airways. The diphtheria toxin causes a membrane of dead tissue to build up over the throat and tonsils, making breathing and swallowing difficult. According to WHO, diphtheria is fatal in 5 - 10% of cases, with a higher mortality rate in young children.

The DCW statement also pointed out that the corporation’s health department delayed the procurement of the anti-diphtheria serum by over three months. “If the corporation had started the process in time, it could have prevented the deaths,” the statement read.

A DCW enquiry into the deaths revealed that the hospital had run out of the anti-diphtheria vaccine in December 2017 and the facility did not have a single dose of the medicine till September 22, 2018.

A team from the hospital had visited the Central Research Institute (CRI), Kasauli, to procure the vaccines in February last year, but the institute had run out of stock of the serum. DCW said the institute informed the civic body team that fresh vaccines could be manufactured if the hospital gets approval from the union ministry of health and family welfare.

“The hospital delayed seeking the approval by almost a month and was later informed that the CRI would deliver the first batch of vaccines on September 30,” the women’s panel added.

Besides, enquiry by the commission revealed that the diphtheria ward did not have ICU or high dependency units.

A senior north body official said person found prima facie responsible for the lapses had been suspended. “An enquiry into the matter is already underway. Further, instructions have been issued to the department to maintain a tender calendar and inventory for procurement of medicines and other essential medical supplies, which must be monitored directly by the additional commissioner,” a senior corporation official said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, September 30, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals