Two days after the nation was shocked to see a Tribal named Dana Majhi carry his dead wife’s body back from a hospital after he was denied a mortuary van, the Odisha government has shockingly given a clean chit to the hospital authorities in Kalahandi.
In a rather horrifying incident, a tribal man from Kalahandi district of Odisha was seen carrying his dead wife’s body from the district headquarter hospital in Bhawanipatne to his village Melghara, nearly 60 km away from the hospital, on Thursday. It was only because of the intervention of a local TV journalist that the man could get a private ambulance on the midway to take the body to his village.
The course of events
Amana Dei, wife of Dana Majhi, died around 1 am on August 24, 2016, while under treatment at the tuberculosis (TB) ward of the said hospital. Till morning, Dana couldn’t find any night duty staff in the ward to get necessary help and support to take the body of the deceased. Staff members were absent from the administrative block, 100m away from the TB ward.
Attendants of other patients in the same ward advised Dana to arrange for a private vehicle to take the body to his village. Poor Dana Majhi had no money to hire a private vehicle. So, around 5 am, he decided to walk along with his teen daughter to his village, nearly 60 km distant, carrying his wife’s body on his shoulders.
After walking 12-13 km for nearly two hours, Dana reached a check post near village Sagada where people saw him carrying the body. Some people who knew Ajit Singh, a local journalist and district reporter of regional news channel OTV, immediately called him up to help Dana.
Ajit Singh called up the District Collector and sought immediate government assistance for Dana. “But, in the government system, the process to get the message reach the right point for initiation of action even in cases of such emergencies is so time consuming that we had to talk to the local Balaji Trust for a private ambulance and that worked,” Ajit Singh said.
As the news came on TV media, it was not only a shocker to viewers but an embarrassment to the government of Odisha and the district administration. Washing his hands off, Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) B K Brahma said Dana had not contacted anybody for a vehicle to take the body from the hospital to his village.
The release issued by the CDMO, however, failed to address the key question – why night duty staff of the TB ward was not present in the hospital to help attendants and look after the patients at times of such emergencies?
To save the face of the district medical administration and health sector management in the state, the CDMO claimed that “without intimating anybody he took away his wife”. He said: “The patient was neither discharged nor declared dead by the ward in-charge doctor”.
Such statements from the CDMO lead to more serious questions! If the statements are true, how many hours do doctors of the district medical hospital take to declare a dead body “dead”? And, why night duty doctors were not there in the specialty TB ward?
What now looks to be a most important issue is that “the deceased was admitted in the TB ward without being diagnosed through proper pathological tests”. “She only had chest pain when brought to the hospital,” a source close to the hospital administration said.
So, signs of negligence from hospital staff and management are seen at every point.
Clean chit to the hospital
Even though all these questions are yet to be answered, the Odisha government has given a clean chit to the hospital authorities believing what the CDMO has placed as points in defence of himself and the hospital staff.
The Odisha government had announced a free hearse scheme named “Mahaprayan” in February for the aid of people in similar kind of distress. It has ordered a detailed probe into the matter. The whole episode throws a light on how welfare programmes are run in the most backward, poverty stricken KBK (undivided Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput districts) region of Odisha.