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Baby death row after minister visit

Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya at the meeting with the chief medical officer of health and other officials at the district hospital on Sunday. Picture by Pranab Debnath

Krishnagar, Aug. 25: A nine-month-old girl admitted to the Nadia district hospital with breathing problems died today, allegedly because medicines could not be administered as the doctor was busy with the health minister’s visit.

The girl’s family members said she was admitted to the paediatric ward after she started gasping at home. The attending doctor prescribed some medicines, which were bought from the fair-price outlet in the compound.

The girl’s uncle Kalyan Pal said: “When I came back with the medicines, the doctor was not there to check them. In the absence of the doctor, the nurses did not administer the medicines, because of which my niece died.”

The girl was taken to the hospital early today by her mother and uncle from their village in Chapra, 30km away. Her father works as a mason in Madhya Pradesh.

According to Kalyan, when he met the doctor, Kallol Das, in his chamber, he was told that Das could not attend to patients as health minister Chandrima Bhattacharya had come to the hospital for an administrative meeting.

Sources said although Das did not attend the meeting, he was busy arranging for it.

Both the doctor and the hospital superintendent denied the allegations that the girl died as medicines were not administered in time.

Minister Bhattacharya, when told about the child’s death, said: “It is an unfortunate incident. I don’t think my visit to the hospital disrupted services. I also don’t think there was any negligence as I had not called any doctor on duty to the meeting. It was an administrative meeting. However, if the girl’s family lodges a written complaint, we will probe the matter. We will not tolerate any negligence on the part of doctors.”

Paediatrician Das said the girl was given proper medicines but her family had delayed bringing her to the hospital.

“I had given medicines to the child. She was suffering from broncho-pneumonia and high fever. I suspect there was some kind of block… maybe because of some food particle in her respiratory tract. I think she was suffering for some time before her family brought her here.”

After the doctor declared the child dead around 2.15pm, the uncle took the baby in his arms and walked with other relatives towards the administrative hall where Bhattacharya was holding the meeting with the chief medical officer of the district, the hospital superintendent and other officials.

“The guards did not allow me to meet the minister. We waited for her to finish the meeting but were pushed aside when she came out of the hall. We shouted to draw her attention but she got into the car and left,” the child’s uncle said.

Hospital superintendent Debabrata Dutta echoed the doctor that the girl’s condition had deteriorated by the time she was admitted. “The girl was brought to the hospital when her condition had already deteriorated a lot. I learnt that the child was taken to a quack and was treated by him for a few days before they brought her to the hospital.”