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Rural quarters fume at ‘leniency’
- Errant health worker admits ‘mistake’, let off with warning

Raiganj, Nov. 15: The health worker of the Bamangram sub-centre, who administered four infants an antiseptic solution instead of Vitamin A drops on Wednesday, has been let off with a warning, a decision of the North Dinajpur health administration that has not gone down well in many quarters.

Sumita Saha, who had been served a showcase notice by chief medical officer of health (CMOH), admitted her “mistake” after which she was issued the warning. The zilla parishad health karmadhakshya and the subdivisional officer of Raiganj have objected to the decision.

The CMOH, Parthasarathi Bhattacharya, said Sumita had been served the showcase notice on Friday and she promptly submitted a written reply.

“She confessed to feeding the babies the antiseptic and gave an assurance in writing that such an error would not occur again. I gave her a good scolding and issued her an official warning. To me, that is an adequate punishment,” said Bhattacharya.

The zilla parishad karmadhakshya for health, Habibur Rehman, however, said he was surprised how the CMOH could take a decision without consulting the district health committee.

“I strongly object to this unilateral decision to let off the health worker with just a warning. It should have been probed how the children were fed the antiseptic, instead of the Vitamin A oil, when the containers they are kept in are different in shape. While Savlon (the antiseptic solution) is pale yellow in colour with a strong smell, the vitamin is a colourless, odourless liquid,” said Rehman.

He added that with the babies’ lives put at risk, the incident should not have been passed off as a mere “mistake.” “I have convened a meeting of the district health committee on November 20, where we will seek an explanation from the CMOH for his decision and initiate steps against the health worker,” said the karmadhakshya.

Raiganj subdivisional officer Sumita Bagchi agreed with Rehman’s stand. “I am writing to the CMOH to seek a full report on the matter.”

The CMOH said there were 344 health sub-centres in North Dinajpur and they were spread across remote areas of the district. “These centres, set up mainly to carry out immunisation programmes, are manned by trained auxiliary nursing midwives, whose minimum qualification is Madhyamik. They are trained in Calcutta for a year before being posted,” said Bhattacharya.

He added that the block medical officers were supposed to keep tabs on the sub-centres. “However, because of tremendous work pressure, the block medical officers of health cannot visit the centres on a regular basis. We are sending instructions to all such centres not to keep medicines other than vaccines on one table.”

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