CIC slams Maharashtra health department for not revealing data on infant deaths
Activists who asked for the information through an application under RTI said that the department has not made the data available in public domain in the past ten years.mumbai Updated: Jan 18, 2018 23:58 IST
The state health department has been pulled up by Central Information Commission (CIC), for not providing data about deaths due to malnutrition and infant-death cases.
Activists who asked for the information through an application under the Right to Information act (RTI) said that the department—while violating the norms of CIC, has not made the data available in public domain in the past ten years.
RTI activist Chetan Kothari had filed two separate queries in September 2017, based on the death of 1,317 deaths of children in BRD medical college Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh and 187 deaths of children in Nashik Civil Hospital in the same year.
However, as the department failed to submit the data, two appeals were filed by Kothari, with CIC on October 10, 2017 and November 13, 2017 in order to avail the statistics.
Kothari said that during the hearing of both the appeals, none of the public health officials were present to give any explanation about their inability to submit the statistics.
“This clearly shows that the state is hiding the data from public eye. Moreover, as per section 4.1 (B) of RTI, 2005, the state was supposed to make this data available on their website, but they have failed to do so,” said Kothari.
During the recent hearing on January 12, held by State Information Commissioner, Ajit Kumar Jain said that the state is bound to make the data available by January 30, free of cost.
“Concerned officials have clearly violated the RTI, 2005 Act and thus they need to submit a response on why CIC shouldn’t take action against them under section 20 (1). Kindly submit a show cause report to the commission till January 30,” Jain stated in the letter issued to public health department.
Former Director, Directorate of Health Services, Dr Satish Pawar said that Maharashtra, which has a good record in lowering the infant mortality rate, had no reasons to hide the data.
“All of our data on infant mortality is available on the website. Secondly the data about malnutrition is not maintained by us, but it is maintained by the Women and Child Development Department. However, through various publications, we keep sharing the data for people of the state,” said Dr Pawar.
However, Kothari added that the DHS website doesn’t have any recent data about the statistics and only has old national figures from past years. “If the data was available in public domain, concerned officials of the department would’ve easily made it available to us. The department is trying to avoid sharing the figures,” Kothari said.