The Health Department of Jharkhand has found that news reports which said 40 ligation procedures had been performed under flashlights in Chatra district were off the mark; the district administration has show-caused the Medical Officer In-Charge for violation of certain protocols.
Authorities have established that the two flashlights kept at the Community Health Centre, Pathalgada were fail-safes for a power outage – the NGO that was in charge of the sterilisation camp had brought along its own Operation Theatre Lights. However, at least part of the post-operative care was performed with flashlights. The incident has brought to light the poor health infrastructure in the state.
The Chatra district administration will also initiate steps to black-list Janani Surya Clinic, which had conducted the sterilisation camp of January 7, attended only by women. Principal Secretary (Health) K. Vidyasagar said, “The MOIC of Itkhori should not have identified that Community Health Centre of Pathalgada for the camp: it was a sub-centre that was recently upgraded, but we have not yet operationalised it. The NGO is also at fault because it should have simply refused to perform the procedures in such circumstances.” The Health Secretary also said that the NGO’s MoU with the Chatra administration had expired on December 31.
However, the individual who coordinated the camp on behalf of Janani Surya, which is affiliated to the Washington D.C.-based DKT International, claimed that a new MoU had been signed in November, 2014. “We have been working with the Chatra administration since 2009. Due to our efforts, the district was awarded in 2010 for recording the highest number of sterilisations,” said Naseem Ahmad Siddiqui, area business manager of the Janani Surya Clinic. He said that after his organisation’s success in Chatra, the adjoining districts of Koderma and Hazaribagh have also entered into MoUs with it. “We perform 4000-5000 procedures in these districts annually,” he said.
Siddiqui said that the MOIC of Itkhori had chosen Pathalgada’s CHC for his team. “We got there at 10.30 AM; the camp was supposed to start at 11 AM. Though both women and men had been invited, only women had turned up,” he said. Siddiqui said his organisation’s responsibility was only to perform the procedures – the government is supposed to provide the logistics and arrange for a lab technician to perform screening tests. “There was nothing at Pathalgada, not even cots – I had to sent our vehicle to get the lab tech from Gidhor block. There was no power supply and even a generator at the facility so I paid the man in charge of a nearby mobile tower for diesel so that he would let us use his generator,” said Siddiqui.
Siddiqui said he had hired rugs, mattresses and blankets; he had also bought four bulbs to light up the place. Apart from OT lights, the NGO also brought along its Pulse Oximeter. “We get paid Rs. 380 by the government for performing a procedure. We end up spending anywhere between Rs. 650-700 in all for each, however,” he said.
The NGO has owned up to a mistake, though: “We performed 40 when we should have conducted 30 procedures. We should not have taken that extra risk,” said Siddiqui. He said that thanks to the lack of facilities at the CHC, they could start the procedures only by 4 PM. One of the the doctors left by 6.30 PM; the other was left to do the rest of the work, with three operating tables lined up inside the makeshift OT.
Chatra’s Deputy Commissioner said that all camps scheduled to be held by the NGO had been cancelled and that the power to allot camps had been taken away from the MOICs and given to the Civil Surgeon. “There were no stretchers; the post-operative care was done using flashlights. It was mere luck that averted a major disaster,” said DC Amit Kumar.
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