June 25: The crackdown on doctors in Murshidabad who had gone on leave while children were dying of fever, that has since been diagnosed as influenza, continued with three health officers being asked to appear before a medical board.
Four more doctors have been served show cause notices. Two doctors of the Lalbag subdivision were suspended earlier for “medical negligence”.
Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee said nine doctors have been identified till now as having acted irresponsibly during the crisis. Over 40 children died in the district in less than a month — unofficial sources put the toll at 70 — and the situation worsened as a number of doctors had gone on leave. They refused to join even after being informed by the administration of the child deaths.
The steps were taken after joint secretary of vigilance R.P. Banerjee and another vigilance officer submitted their report to the health department following a visit to Murshidabad on Monday.
The health department has suspended another doctor for not being vigilant enough during the pulse polio drive in the district.
Chatterjee said there had been lapses in coordination by doctors in the district and they had failed to pass the information to the health department at Writers’ Buildings on time.
The Indian Medical Association, Calcutta branch, which is miffed with the government’s decision, will take out a protest march on July 5.
Child deaths anger
Twenty-three activists of the Revolutionary Youth Forum (RYF), the youth wing of Left Front partner RSP, were arrested for ransacking the office of the chief medical officer of health this evening when they went there to hand over a memorandum on the child deaths.
“The RYF had sent me a letter on June 17 that a representation would call on me concerning the recent deaths among children in the district today. Since they had written a week ago, the matter had slipped my mind. I had left for Lalgola on urgent work and on my return had gone to meet the district magistrate. During this time I came to know that the members of the organisation forcibly entered my office and ransacked it,” said Bijon Mondol, the chief medical officer.