NHRC notice to Government of Haryana over reports of Panipat General Hospital working without any paediatrician and ventilator (01.02.2019)

New Delhi, 1st February, 2019

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that “The Special Neonatal Care Unit (SNCU) at the General Hospital in Panipat district of Haryana is without any paediatrician and ventilator. Three neonates died here on Monday, the 28th January, 2019, while 33 had died in 2018. Last year saw the unit virtually turn into a referral centre with 351 neonates being referred to other hospitals due to the lack of amenities. Reportedly, the hospital has been functioning without any paediatrician for the past two months while it is mandatory to have a paediatrician and two doctors on round-the-clock duty. There are only four nurses posted against the required strength of eight.

The commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. It has observed that the contents of the media report are disheartening and, if true, amount to violation of human rights. Proper medical care is one of the basic human rights and the State is bound to protect the life of the poor babies as most of the patients who approach the government hospitals, are from weaker sections of the society and they cannot afford costly treatment at private hospitals.

According to the media report, carried today on the 1st February, 2019, the Paediatrician-cum-Incharge of the SNCU was suspended in connection with a criminal case last year while the other paediatrician is on Child Care Leave. There are three doctors who are supervising the work. They have been appointed on contract basis. The doctors find it from difficult for them to provide proper care to the newly born babies due to non-availability of any paediatrician in the hospital.

The doctors have reportedly stated that they have no option but to refer serious patients to other hospital. The Medical Superintendent has identified that low weight and respiratory distress as the main reason behind the death of the three newborns at the centre, recently. Reportedly, the vacancy for the paediatrician’s post has been advertised twice but no doctors seems to be willing to join at monthly salary of Rs. 80,000/-.