PATNA: A woman in Bihar delivered her baby on the road outside the district magistrate’s official residence in the bone-pricking winter chill on Friday night after the local government hospital refused to admit her due to absence of doctors.
The incident in the northern Sitamarhi district drew attention to Bihar’s ramshackle healthcare system despite claims to the contrary made by the government of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The woman, Sunaina Devi, and her newborn baby lay on the road outside the district magistrate’s residence for nearly an hour before they could be taken to the hospital.
Staff at the primary health centre at Dumra refused to admit Devi because there was no doctor present, said sources. Since the staff also made no effort to get an ambulance to take her to the nearest government hospital, the district headquarters hospital in Sitamarhi, she walked along with her husband. Upon reaching the district magistrate’s residence, she developed severe labour pain and delivered her baby on the road outside the building.
When Rajiv Roushan, the district magistrate, was informed by some journalists about Devi and her newborn lying outside his residence, he ordered an ambulance and doctors to reach there and take her and her baby to the district headquarters hospital. But only a nurse and no doctor came in the ambulance and took Devi and the baby to the hospital, said sources.
Dr Kunal Kumar, of the primary health centre, denied the absence of any doctor there. “The baby was in breach condition and so she was asked to approach a hospital with better facilities than here. There was no ambulance available at the time to help her,” he said.
“This is a case of utter indifference to a woman in need of help. I have ordered an inquiry to ascertain the conditions in which she was sent away from the PHC and had to deliver her baby under the open sky in the cold night,” said Rajiv Roushan, the district magistrate.