DCW asks Delhi Police to start criminal prosecution against authorities over death of 21 children
New Delhi: The DCW asked Delhi Police Tuesday to initiate criminal prosecution against state health department officials and hospital authorities over the death of 21 children allegedly due to non-availability of diphtheria vaccine.
Last year in September, 21 children died due to diphtheria at a civic hospital in north Delhi. The deaths were reported at the Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital at Kingsway Camp.
Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal said it is clear that the deaths of the children could have been prevented had the vaccine been procured in a timely manner.
"Instead, the North MCD dragged its feet in the matter and for over nine months, there was no vaccine available in the hospital. Further, acute infrastructural issues highlighted raise serious concerns on the intent and sincerity of hospital authorities and it may be the case that funds meant for upkeep and upgradation of the hospital were mismanaged," Maliwal said in the notice.
Therefore, it is clear that the deaths of the children were a direct result of criminal negligence and seemingly corrupt conduct of North Municipal Corporation of Delhi authorities, she said in the notice to the Joint Commissioner of Police Northern Range, Delhi Police.
In view of the above, it is important that an FIR under relevant sections of the law for criminal negligence and mismanagement is immediately registered in the matter against the health department officials and MVID Hospital authorities and a proper investigation is undertaken in the matter, she said.
She asked Delhi Police to provide an action taken report in the matter latest by January 31, failing which appropriate action shall be initiated as per law.
The commission has instituted an inquiry into the matter and in this regard notices were issued to the North MCD.
In its reply dated September 27, the Health Department of North MCD has submitted a report on the matter, the DCW said.
According to the DCW, the report said that the stock of anti-diphtheria vaccine was completely consumed by December 2, 2017, and till September 22, 2018, for over 9.5 months there was not even a single dose of anti-diphtheria serum (ADS) available in the hospital.
On April 28 last year, upon delay of two months after the visit, a letter was sent to the DGHS, Delhi government seeking approval of the Ministry of Health for manufacturing of ADS by the Central Research Institute, Kasauli, the DCW said.
A reply was received from the DGHS, wherein it was informed that CRI, Kasauli will deliver first batch of ADS on September 30, it said.
Regarding the infrastructure of the hospital, the DCW said diphtheria wards were poorly lit, proper isolation facilities were not available, intravenous infusion pumps and continuous cardiac-respiratory monitoring facilities were not available in the hospital.
"There was no ICU or high dependency facilities for sick patients. Antiarrhythmic drugs were not available. Tracheostomy facilities and operation theatre services were not available. Ambulance, X-Ray and laboratory services were not available and services of the neighbouring RBTB hospital were being used," the DCW said.