NAGALAND HEALTH SECTOR IN SHAMBLES?
20 PILs filed by HRLN allege utter neglect and rampant corruption in the Nagaland Government health sector
Morung Express News
Kohima | November 29
Health-care services in Nagaland seems more of a hazard than a basic need, going by the Nagaland scenario unearthed by the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Nagaland Chapter.
After undertaking a number of fact finding missions, HRLN-Nagaland Chapter has filed 20 Public Interest Litigation (PIL) relating to the status of women’s reproductive health in Nagaland, registrations on births and deaths, Nagaland government’s failure to provide basic health facilities in districts and villages, misappropriation of over Rs 62 crores in the health sector under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
As on November 27, 2015, HRLN had filed 20 PILs against the Government of Nagaland and the Health and Family Welfare Department in particular. This was informed by HRLN members during a press conference held today at its office in Kohima.
Maternal deaths and
Asserting that maternal deaths in Nagaland is a serious issue, the HRLN cited a PIL which they had filed against Nagaland Government before the Gauhati High Court, wherein a 40 year old woman in a Southern Angami village died “due to poor implementation of government maternal health schemes, absence of ante-natal care, a broken referral system and substandard medical treatment during delivery.”
The deceased woman who left behind 5 children was taken to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) during delivery on March 1, 2015 where she gave birth to a baby girl around 11 pm. Three nurses were present to assist her. There was no Doctor. After delivery, the woman complained of backache and stomach-ache. The nurses without first establishing her actual health status administered injection and capsules for gastritis after which the woman’s health deteriorated. She died the next morning.
Another PIL was filed against the Government’s failure to implement citizen’s rights to health and treatment while highlighting the alarming figures of infant and maternal mortality. From 2012-2014, there were 164 infant deaths while there were 46 maternal deaths from 2012-2015 in Nagaland. An RTI reply dated May 26, 2015 revealed that there were 36 infant deaths and 2 maternal deaths in Phek district between the years 2012- 2014.
However, HRLN stated that the latest RTI report indicates that “we are not seeing the right figure.” From 2010 till date, from Dimapur District Hospital alone there were 12 maternal deaths and 251 infant deaths. “They are showing us skewed figures of infant deaths and maternal deaths,” said Rosemary Dzüvichü, coordinator of HRLN while alleging that officials may be fabricating facts.
Failure to provide basic
Under the Indian Public Health Standard (IPHS), even a Community Health Centre (CHC) should have one Surgeon, one Gynecologist, Medical Officer, one AYUSH Doctor, Pharmacist, ten nurses etc. In a despondent scenario, most of the requisite medical team as well as basic amenities like beds, medicines, water are missing in most CHCs in Nagaland. The HRLN have filed 12 PILs after fact-finding undertakings in towns and villages of Kiphire, Peren, Phek, Zunheboto and Kohima. “IPHS states clearly how many doctors should be in district hospitals, PHCs, CHCs. And until and unless we follow this (IPHS guidelines), we cannot cope up with the deaths and tragedies that are happening,” HRLN members said.
One PIL was filed against the Zunheboto District Hospital highlighting the lack of adequate manpower and no medical specialists in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Ophthalmologists. One Medical Superintendent of the hospital has been absent for the past 2 years.
Kiphire District Hospital does not have a technician to operate X-Ray equipment, no blood bank refrigerator, no morgue room. The PIL also mentions that the Medical Superintendent and two senior Medical Officers posted in the district visit the hospital only for meetings and to attend important government programs. No action has been taken to improve the environment of the hospital despite a number of representations and memorandums submitted to the State government by concerned organizations.
Further, even though the hospital has an ambulance, there is no driver. This has led to life threatening situation when women going for delivery have to look for a driver first, the HRLN members pointed out. The deplorable road condition has also led to maternal deaths, they added.
Allegations of misappropriation of NRHM funds
A PIL case was also filed based on a report by Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) on the alleged embezzlement of Rs 62 crore in the health sector under NRHM Nagaland in 2012.
The HRLN alleged that the whole health sector in Nagaland is in shambles because “money is being used as pocket money by health officials and money meant for community monitoring are misused.” Moreover, the trend of “Doctors doing business, people becoming suppliers, contractors as suppliers” has degenerated the health sector Nagaland, they added.
Bringing an instance on the misuse of funds by authorities, HRLN said an official withdrew Rs 5 lakh to do a community monitoring in Peren which is a huge contrast to a Medical team travelling all the way to Mon and spending only Rs 58 000 on travel, food, medicines etc.
In an RTI reply, HRLN learnt that many officials were taking pocket money from the NRHM fund. Citing another instance, the HRLN mentioned of a case of withdrawing Rs 22 lakhs to do a field study on Nagaland.
It may be mentioned that the PIL on embezzlement has been moved to the Supreme Court after the Kohima Bench Gauhati High Court ruled that “there was no need for the CBI to come in.” HRLN members lamented the “disappointing verdict.”
Other PILs filed in relation to apathy of health services include Birth and Death Registration where HRLN is seeking establishments of registration camps and door to door drives with low registration, notification to village councils, health workers, educators in villages for authorizing birth certificates etc.
In their petitions, the HRLN have further asked for information on malnutrition, lack of health services, lack of referral transport, medical care and also demanded remedial measures for better health facilities following the IPHS guidelines.