BHUBANESWAR: Odisha’s medical fraternity had a bad day today, especially doctors in the public health sector. There’s a Japanese encephalitis epidemic sweeping the tribal-dominated Malkangiri district, with 48 lives lost to the vector-borne disease in just the last 35 days.
That wasn’t all: doctors went on a wildcat strike in a local hospital in Cuttack district after a paediatrician was thrashed for not attending to an accident victim as promptly as demanded. In Kendrapara district, doctors were left to fend at allegations that they botched up on a vaccination programme after a three-month-old infant died after being given polio drops, and the death of a pregnant woman brought the wrath of her family upon the doctors who attended to her.
Here are four developments on a forgettable day for doctors in Odisha.
1. Is there any stopping Japanese encephalitis?
The epidemic sweeping Malkangiri district took the lives to seven-year-old Rebika Madkami (7) of Katangapali village in Podia block and five-year-old Amit Madkami of Dariguda village, at district headquarters hospital. At least six children have died of the disease in the last 36 hours.
Initially reported from Korukonda block, Japanese encephalitis has spread to 79 villages in all seven rural blocks of Malkangiri district in addition to the headquarters municipality as well.
Odisha health secretary Arti Ahuja has been camping at Malkangiri since yesterday. She visited a couple of the affected villages to talk up the preventive measures being taken by her staff. “The chances of survival of the afflicted children would be greater if they were brought to hospital in time,” she said.
Ahuja held out hope, however: arrivals of new cases at the district headquarters hospital have been slackening in the last few days and the mortalities have fallen too.
2. Doctors’ out on strike in Cuttack
The attack on the paediatrician took place at the Athagarh sub-divisional hospital in Cuttack district. Three days ago, Monday, two persons brought in an accident victim and demanded that he be attended to immediately. They were incensed that no doctor was immediately available and so they marched down to the quarters of Dr Chandan Gadnayak, who’s a paediatric specialist, and demanded that he come to the hospital. When he expressed his inability, he was thrashed.
Today, medicos launched a flash strike, demanding immediate legal action against the people who attacked Dr Gadnayak. Work in the hospital was affected, and patients were left to their own devices.
Police have registered a case following a written complaint lodged by Dr Gadnayak but the doctors were not satisfied. The medical officer of the hospital, Dr P K Hota said police have done nothing despite repeated demands.
The district’s high officials rushed to the hospital to defuse the situation. Cuttack collector Nirmal Mishra tried to pacify the doctors, saying the main accused in the case has already surrendered before the police.
3. Pregnant woman dies, family turns on doctor
In Baripada, tensions ran high at the district headquarters hospital (DHH) today following the death of a pregnant woman allegedly due to the negligence of doctors.
The family of the woman sat on a dharna, refusing to take away the body. Agains, it took the arrival of the district collector to defuse the situation.
Sources said Jayanti Murmu (28) of Bholagadia village was admitted in the hospital for delivery on Wednesday and gynaec Dr Anjan Sarangi assured her husband it would be a normal delivery.
But the woman died in the night after a struggle for three hours.The woman’s husband Dasnath murmur alleged that the doctor left to attend to his private practice. “When my wife complained of labour pains, there was no doctor was present in the hospital,” he said.
News of the death spread and local people gathered to protest, demanding compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the bereaved family.
They withdrew the agitation after collector Rajesh Pravakar Patil asked the accused doctor to go on leave and directed the additional district magistrate Deben Kumar Pradhan to conduct a detailed inquiry.
4. Vaccine gone wrong? Docs blamed
In Kendrapara, it was the death of a three-month-old infant, after a polio vaccine, that turned the parents’ wrath upon the doctors who administered the immunisation vaccine.
Sources said the three-month-old son of Raghu Murmu of Shyamsundarpur village died shortly after he was administered polio drops along with two other immunisation vaccines at DHH Kendrapara yesterday.
According to a complaint lodged with the Sadar police, the infant suffered health complications in the night and died before he could be rushed to hospital.
“My son was alright till he took the vaccines. He died within six hours after having them,” Murmu alleged.
The chief district medical officer of Kendrapada, Dr Niranjan Swain denied the allegations. He said several other children had been administered the vaccines the very day the infant was given the drops.