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Jorhat DC asked to order magisterial inquiry

By STAFF CORRESPONDENT

JORHAT, Nov 14 - The Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Samir Kumar Sinha has directed the Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Narayan Konwar to order a magisterial inquiry into the deaths of 20 newborns at the Special Care Newborn Unit (SCNU) of the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital between November 1 to 13.

Between November 1 to 6 there were 15 newborn deaths at the JMCH, out of which six deaths occurred on November 6 alone.

The number of newborn deaths, meanwhile, went up to 23 today as three more deaths of infants undergoing treatment at SCNU occurred between the intervening night of November 12-13 and yesterday, a high-level JMCH source told this newspaper this evening.

Sinha, accompanied by the Commissioner and Secretary (Health) AK Goyal, Director of Medical Education Dr Anup Kumar Barman, NHM (Assam) Executive Director Dr AC Baishya along with several other top officials of the Health Department had arrived here from Guwahati and had chaired a marathon meeting of over four hours at the Jorhat Circuit House to review child mortality and expectant mother care system provided by the government health department and various agencies in the three districts of Jorhat, Golaghat and Sivasagar as also the state of affairs at various FRUs and district-level hospitals.

The meeting, attended by JMCH Principal Professor Debajit Hazarika and Superintendent Professor Saurabh Borkotoky, also discussed about the newborn deaths at length.

Later after the meeting was over, the team visited the JMCH to take stock of the prevailing situation and immediate measures initiated in the institute to tackle the rise in cases of newborn deaths, the JMCH source disclosed.

Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Narayan Konwar, who too attended the meeting chaired by Sinha, told The Assam Tribune that after discussions on the JMCH deaths, the Principal Secretary directed him to order a comprehensive magisterial inquiry into the entire episode.

Konwar said that the probe will look into all aspects including the findings by the internal inquiry committee of JMCH that last week submitted a report to the Government.

The DC said that the probe will examine the causes cited by the internal committee which blamed lack of anti-natal check-ups done on the pregnant women whose babies died at the JMCH.

He said that claim was contested in the meeting by ASHA workers, few families who lost their newborns and officials of the periphery health centres. Konwar said that the inquiry, to be completed in a month�s time, will also look into claims of rapid rise in number of childbirth cases at JMCH since last month as records presented in the meeting showed the number of birth cases reported at the JMCH in October last year was more than the cases reported in the same month this year.

The DC said that the magisterial inquiry will take assistance from the ongoing probe being conducted by the Jorhat District Joint Director of Health Dr Amrit Saikia into the newborn deaths. The probe will be asked to suggest remedial measures to prevent such occurrences.

He also disclosed that the fact of the JMCH authorities not informing the district administration, including himself, about the deaths too, was brought to the notice of the Principal Secretary.

Konwar said that he will issue an order announcing the inquiry in a day or two along with the name of the official to be entrusted the job.

A source present in the meeting chaired by Sinha, said that the top Health Department official was �much unhappy� with the explanations given by JMCH authorities and causes cited by the internal six-member committee for the deaths.

The source said the issue of �unauthorised earned leave� taken by two senior doctors of the Gynaecology department during the period when baby deaths occurred was also discussed.

The source also disclosed that the observation reportedly made by Unicef consultant, who was a member of the four-member Joint Inspection team that visited JMCH on Saturday, stated that �timely action� at the hospital could have saved four newborns among the first 15 deaths this month.

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Jorhat DC asked to order magisterial inquiry

JORHAT, Nov 14 - The Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Samir Kumar Sinha has directed the Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Narayan Konwar to order a magisterial inquiry into the deaths of 20 newborns at the Special Care Newborn Unit (SCNU) of the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital between November 1 to 13.

Between November 1 to 6 there were 15 newborn deaths at the JMCH, out of which six deaths occurred on November 6 alone.

The number of newborn deaths, meanwhile, went up to 23 today as three more deaths of infants undergoing treatment at SCNU occurred between the intervening night of November 12-13 and yesterday, a high-level JMCH source told this newspaper this evening.

Sinha, accompanied by the Commissioner and Secretary (Health) AK Goyal, Director of Medical Education Dr Anup Kumar Barman, NHM (Assam) Executive Director Dr AC Baishya along with several other top officials of the Health Department had arrived here from Guwahati and had chaired a marathon meeting of over four hours at the Jorhat Circuit House to review child mortality and expectant mother care system provided by the government health department and various agencies in the three districts of Jorhat, Golaghat and Sivasagar as also the state of affairs at various FRUs and district-level hospitals.

The meeting, attended by JMCH Principal Professor Debajit Hazarika and Superintendent Professor Saurabh Borkotoky, also discussed about the newborn deaths at length.

Later after the meeting was over, the team visited the JMCH to take stock of the prevailing situation and immediate measures initiated in the institute to tackle the rise in cases of newborn deaths, the JMCH source disclosed.

Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Narayan Konwar, who too attended the meeting chaired by Sinha, told The Assam Tribune that after discussions on the JMCH deaths, the Principal Secretary directed him to order a comprehensive magisterial inquiry into the entire episode.

Konwar said that the probe will look into all aspects including the findings by the internal inquiry committee of JMCH that last week submitted a report to the Government.

The DC said that the probe will examine the causes cited by the internal committee which blamed lack of anti-natal check-ups done on the pregnant women whose babies died at the JMCH.

He said that claim was contested in the meeting by ASHA workers, few families who lost their newborns and officials of the periphery health centres. Konwar said that the inquiry, to be completed in a month�s time, will also look into claims of rapid rise in number of childbirth cases at JMCH since last month as records presented in the meeting showed the number of birth cases reported at the JMCH in October last year was more than the cases reported in the same month this year.

The DC said that the magisterial inquiry will take assistance from the ongoing probe being conducted by the Jorhat District Joint Director of Health Dr Amrit Saikia into the newborn deaths. The probe will be asked to suggest remedial measures to prevent such occurrences.

He also disclosed that the fact of the JMCH authorities not informing the district administration, including himself, about the deaths too, was brought to the notice of the Principal Secretary.

Konwar said that he will issue an order announcing the inquiry in a day or two along with the name of the official to be entrusted the job.

A source present in the meeting chaired by Sinha, said that the top Health Department official was �much unhappy� with the explanations given by JMCH authorities and causes cited by the internal six-member committee for the deaths.

The source said the issue of �unauthorised earned leave� taken by two senior doctors of the Gynaecology department during the period when baby deaths occurred was also discussed.

The source also disclosed that the observation reportedly made by Unicef consultant, who was a member of the four-member Joint Inspection team that visited JMCH on Saturday, stated that �timely action� at the hospital could have saved four newborns among the first 15 deaths this month.

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