The Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital, where 24 children died due to diphtheria in September, has all five posts of specialist doctors vacant, according to the figures given by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation during a recent House meeting.
The North body, in response to a question by Leader of Opposition Anil Lakra, also stated that besides Central Research Institute (CRI) in Kasauli, the anti-diphtheria serum is produced by Haffkine Bio-pharmaceutical Corporations Limited in Pimpri, Maharashtra, and VINS Bioproducts Limited in Mahbubnagar, Telangana.
The hospital administration had earlier maintained that the reason behind several children not receiving the anti-diphtheria serum was because “CRI is the only agency that specialises in manufacturing anti-diphtheria serum (ADS)”, and it had closed its operations due to some renovation work.
“The Corporation knew that there are two other agencies from where the serum could have been procured, but they didn’t make any effort to purchase it. They kept saying that the serum is not available as the CRI has gone for upgradation,” said Lakra.
“However, the claim fell flat because CRI said they had kept serum ready in the first week of September, but no one came to collect it,” he added.
“The North corporation is under acute financial crunch. Not many people want to work in corporation hospitals where the salary remains delayed for months, especially at a time when the private sector is so lucrative,” said a North body official.
“We have cleaned the mess in the diphtheria department and are trying to fix things… In the next two months, every thing will be updated for all the departments,” claimed the official. A budget of Rs 38 crore was allocated for purchasing medicines in North Corporation hospitals, out of which Rs 18 crore has been spent, according to figures.