Three cheers for Lalmoni Sardar’s triplets and three more reasons for Bengal’s health care system to hang its head in shame.
A village dai (midwife) helped Nadia homemaker Lalmoni, 30, give birth to two premature girls and a boy in her parents’ home last week after the district hospital said it was not equipped to handle multiple pregnancies and her family failed to finance her trip to Calcutta for treatment at NRS Medical College and Hospital.
Lalmoni, from Ektarpur village, had travelled 35km to Krishnagar Sadar Hospital a couple of days before the delivery, only to be referred to NRS. The doctors apparently didn’t want to take the risk of admitting a woman expecting triplets.
Lalmoni’s husband Dilip Sardar, a landless farm labourer who earns around Rs 80 a day when he finds work, took his wife to her parents’ home instead of NRS because he did not have money to cover her travel and stay in the city.
“I thought her parents’ home in Dogachhi-Meeraipur village (50km from Ektarpur) was the next best option to Calcutta, which is far (155km away) and expensive. The dai was not trained but had experience. We couldn’t afford a better dai, so we requested her and she agreed,” Dilip recalled.
On the night of May 25, Lalmoni lay on a floor through 90 minutes of labour pain and multiple health risks to deliver her triplets.
“The babies are underweight but have shown signs of getting better. Lalmoni is weak but she will be fine, I thing,” Dilip said.
He hasn’t yet taken mother and children back to Krishnagar for a check-up.
Lalmoni had given birth to a girl four years ago at Krishnagar Matri Sadan, which has since closed down. She had wanted her triplets — the expected delivery date was July 14 — to be born in a government hospital as well.
So what excuse would Krishnagar Sadar Hospital give Mamata Banerjee if she were to pay a surprise visit?
“The hospital is the referral centre for all block primary health centres in the district. There is no reason why it should be unable to handle multiple pregnancies,” a senior health department official said.
The chief medical officer of Nadia, Amit Haldar, said Lalmoni was referred to NRS for better neo-natal management. “The attending doctor, Amitava Chowdhury, felt that she needed to be sent to a hospital with ventilators and other sophisticated equipment required for the care of premature newborns.”
Haldar said he could not recall triplets being born at the hospital.
On why the hospital wasn’t equipped with the required equipment for neo-natal management, the official said: “The sadar hospital has Tier II-level facilities at the moment, though we are supposed to have graduated to Tier III by now.”