| Chief minister Nitish Kumar greets the imam of Madarsa Samsul Hoda, Patna, Idain Hazrat Maulana Khwaja Abdul Bari, after the Id prayers at Gandhi Maidan on Friday. Nitish has been facing flak for the Gandaman midday meal tragedy. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, Aug. 9: Doctors in Chhapra seem to have developed cold feet over treating Gandaman midday meal tragedy survivors.
Two of the 22 children, released from Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) after treatment on August 6, were sent back to the health hub on Thursday night.
Six-year-old Preeti and eight-year-old Preman Kumari complained of fever and abdominal pain. But the PMCH doctors, who earlier treated the Gandaman children, said the decision to refer them directly from the Masrakh primary health centre to the health hub raised many questions on the doctors’ capability to handle minor ailments such as fever and abdominal pain.
“I cannot understand why the primary health centre doctors could not treat the kids for fever and abdominal pain. Even if they could not, they should have referred them to the Sadar hospital first,” said R.K. Himanshu, a doctor at the paediatric department of PMCH. Himanshu said the Chhapra Sadar hospital has a good child specialist, Ravishankar, who treats 100-150 children in the outpatient department everyday. “Why did the primary heath centre doctor not refer the two children to Sadar hospital I fail to understand. There is no denying that primary health centres, Sadar hospitals, divisional- and sub-divisional hospitals can refer patients to the medical college hospitals in case they feel it is an emergency but there is a proper way of doing that. A primary heath centre should first refer a case directly to the block- and district-level hospitals (referring to divisional, sub-divisional and Sadar hospital).”
“Fever and abdominal pain for which the two children have been sent back to PMCH have nothing to do with poisoning,” said Nigam Prakash Narayan, another doctor of the paediatric department, while departmental head S.R. Choudhary echoed Narayan.
On being contacted, Chhapra civil surgeon Vinay Kumar Yadav said: “The doctors at the Masrakh primary health centre suspected that the fever and abdominal pain had been caused by poisoning. So they did not want to take any risk and thought it better to refer them to PMCH, where the children had recovered.”
However, when asked why the children were not referred to Sadar hospital, Yadav replied: “When the two children arrived at the primary health centre with fever and vomiting problem, journalists started rushing in and asking questions to the doctors there. We were under so much pressure that we thought it better to refer the cases to PMCH.”
A source, however, said Preeti and Preman were seen playing on their beds at PMCH and eating properly.
Raju Mehto, Preman’s father, said: “She has fever but her condition cannot be termed serious. I wonder why the primary health centre doctors felt the need of sending her to PMCH. Preman didn’t want to come here but we had to follow the doctors’ instructions.”
However, Laldeo Mehto, Preeti’s father, said: “The health centre doctors could not treat my daughter’s abdominal pain and so they referred her to PMCH. I don’t think there is anything wrong in that.”