Death of infants and pregnant women: MHRC serves notice to Health and Social Welfare depts

Death of infants and pregnant women: MHRC serves notice to Health and Social Welfare depts

Shillong, Oct 20: The state government has been served with a notice by the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission (MHRC) over reports of death of 877 newborns and 61 pregnant women.

The MHRC has asked the State Health and Family Welfare Department and Social Welfare Department to explain the cause of the deaths of the infants and pregnant women.

This notice to the state government departments were served by the Commission after child and women rights activist, Agnes Kharshiing filed a petitioned on the matter.

It may be mentioned that earlier this year the Director of Health Services (MI). Dr. Aman War had said that 877 infants and 61 pregnant women died between April 2020 till July 2020 due to diseases other than Coronavirus.

The Commission while issuing the notice has given the two departments 30 days time to submit its report before the commission.

Dr. War had said the death of 877 newborns and 61 pregnant women was due to lack of medical attention, pneumonia and birth asphyxia.

The death of most of the pregnant women was because they were not admitted to a hospital for institutional delivery, War had said.

In her petition, Kharshiing pointed out that the State has 12 big hospitals including private ones.

Apart from that there are 30 Community Health Centres (CHC,) 110 Primary Health Care Centres (PHC) and also Civil Hospitals in each of the 11 districts.

“The State suffers from paucity of ambulances with only 72 ambulances servicing the entire State with one or two ambulances for PHCs and CHCs is that the right to health is integral to the right to life and the government has constitutional obligation to provide health facilities which in this case the fundamental rights under Article 21 is being violated,” Kharshiing noted in her petition.

The MHRC said that on perusal of the papers on record, the Commission is deeply concerned with the matter which raises serious issues of violation of human rights as Article 21 of the Constitution mandates for protection of life and personal liberty to every citizen and right to life and health is fundamental rights and it is the paramount duty of the state to protect and safeguard such rights of any individual.

The National Commission for Women had also written to State Chief Secretary M.S. Rao over the deaths and sought feedback.

“It is a matter of serious concern and the commission has taken note of the lapse by the hospital at the time when the government of India is emphasising for implementation of institutional delivery mechanism across the nation,” NCW Chaiperson Rekha Sharma had stated in the letter.