The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doctors rally for district mates

Calcutta, June 22: A team of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) will meet chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in a day or two to protest against the government’s decision to punish doctors for the recent child deaths in Murshidabad.

Two health service doctors of Lalbag sub-division were suspended yesterday for “medical negligence”.

Based on a survey of several hospitals in Murshidabad where the deaths occurred by a five-member IMA team recently, the association will try to convince the chief minister that doctors could not be held responsible for the tragedy, said IMA spokesman Sudipto Roy.

“About 80 per cent of the children who died of the disease had developed respiratory problems and there was no supply of oxygen in all the hospitals where such patients were treated. Some hospitals did not even have paracetamol, the preliminary drug for treatment of fever. The nurses on duty in these hospitals admitted to our team that there had been no supply of oxygen in the hospitals for the past six months. How can a doctor treat a patient suffering from respiratory trouble without oxygen'” Roy asked.

“The hospitals are not even equipped to test blood to confirm malaria. All the children who died of the disease had high fever, but the doctors in the hospitals were not in a position to examine blood to identify any disease. Now the chief minister is up in arms against these doctors. We will oppose this,” he said.

Child specialist Chandan Banerjee, who visited the district along with the IMA team, alleged that the hospitals did not have specialists. In many cases, either a dentist or a gynaecologist was assigned to treat the children. “We don’t understand what a dentist will do with patients suffering from high fever and respiratory trouble,” Banerjee said.

Both Roy and Banerjee also opposed Bhattacharjee’s decision to suspend the doctors who had taken leave during the crisis. “The doctors had taken legitimate leave and told the government before going on leave. We have information that there was no child specialist in any of these hospitals. We don’t understand why the government is going to punish the doctors who were on leave instead of looking into the lack of infrastructure in these hospitals,” Roy said.

The IMA has submitted its findings to the government and is demanding that health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra visit the Murshidabad hospitals. “The health minister is a physician and should go and see the conditions at the hospitals in the district himself,” Banerjee said.

Bankura fever

A one-year-old baby died in Bankura and nine other children, affected by an undiagnosed illness, have been hospitalised in a serious condition. The 10 children of two families of Manusmari village were running 104 degree celsius fever when they were admitted to Sonamukhi hospital.

But chief medical officer of the district Murali Mohan Das denied any information of children falling ill or dying.

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