It took five days for the health minister of West Bengal to pay a visit to Howrah State General Hospital, where six-month-old Shabana Parveen had been admitted last week and her mother, Naseema, is undergoing treatment at present.
Surjya Kanta Mishra, after attending a daylong meeting with various district officials on village welfare at Howrah on Saturday, dropped by the hospital for a brief period in the afternoon.
“I have met Naseema and she is fine,” Mishra said, stepping out of the hospital. Asked why it took him so long to visit the hospital in the eye of a controversy following Shabana’s death, he replied: “Etar kono uttar debo na (I will not answer this question).”
Mishra, however, admitted that Shabana — who died on her way to Medical College and Hospital in a taxi last Monday — should have been provided an ambulance. “I have asked for a report on this,” he said. Hospital superintendent H.K. Chanda, too, affirmed that the doctor treating Shabana should have requested for an ambulance.
When asked why the state’s district hospitals are not self- sufficient and have to refer critical cases to city hospitals, Mishra countered: “Why only district hospitals' No hospital is self-sufficient. Or else, why would people go abroad for treatment' Why are then the referral units for'”
The minister’s brief visit to the Howrah hospital, however, failed to satisfy the authorities. “There are a host of problems we wanted to discuss with him, but did not get the time. It would have been better if he had spent some more time,” said a hospital official.