The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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HC balm on HIV kid

Imphal, July 14: The Imphal bench of Gauhati High Court today slapped a showcause notice on Manipur’s premier hospital for allegedly using unsterilised equipment to close a gash on a three-year-old boy’s forehead in 2001, leading to HIV infection that was detected four years later.

Brahmacharimayum Rakesh Sharma, now eight, had been taken to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal on March 15 that year with an injury which required several stitches. His father, B. Tolajit Sharma, stated in his petition to the court that the doctors sutured the gash with forceps, needle, scalpel and scissors. He claimed to have noticed that the medical staff present in the ward had used the same equipment on other patients and not sterilised these properly.

Rakesh’s parents ostensibly did not know the consequences of the alleged negligence by doctors until he developed various ailments last year. The boy was taken to several physicians and given medicines, but he did not show any sign of improvement.

When his condition worsened, Rakesh was admitted to the government-run Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal on November 13 last year. On the advice of a doctor in that hospital, he was tested for HIV on November 23. The test turned out to be positive.

Sharma stated in the petition that he and his wife, Amusana Devi, underwent tests soon after and were found to be HIV-negative. This, he said, led him and those whom he consulted to be convinced that the virus was transferred to the child while being treated at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences.

Rakesh has since been taking anti-retroviral drugs.

Admitting the petition, which seeks Rs 5 lakh in compensation from the hospital for allegedly transmitting HIV to Rakesh, Justice T. Nandakumar Singh issued a notice to RIMS director Dr L. Fimate, asking him to reply in four weeks.

Rakesh Meihoubam, the petitioner’s counsel and the Manipur co-ordinator of Human Rights Law Network, said this was the first such case filed against the institute.

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