The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has ordered an inquiry into incidents of back-to-back fatalities of mothers and newborns in G-B’s public hospitals.
The first incident was reported on May 23 when a mother and her newborn died during labour at the District Headquarters Hospital (DHH), Gilgit’s largest government hospital. The deceased belonged to Nagar, a valley in Hunza Nagar district.
In another similar incident, a young mother died at the City Hospital Gilgit due to excessive bleeding while delivering a baby. The third incident occurred on Monday in Chilas, Diamer district where a newborn expired. Relatives accused the doctor of cutting the baby’s head during delivery, while doctors claimed the infant was a stillborn.
Demonstrators protested outside the hospital, chanting slogans against the management and demanded an inquiry.
“In order to save the life of the mother, an operation was inevitable,” said Dr Ismail in defence of the Chilas hospital.
Expressing regret over the deaths, G-B Minister of Health Gulbar Khan said an inquiry has been ordered to find those responsible. “This is really shocking and the inquiry has been ordered to figure out the cause,” he told a delegation of human rights activists on Wednesday.
Except for the DHH, no other hospital has a gynecologist and cases have to be dealt with by midwives, who resort to using traditional methods.
“The government and doctors are responsible for the deaths,” alleged Muhammad Farooq, the coordinator for International Human Rights Observer (IHRO). “They have shown criminal negligence and the judiciary must take suo moto notice.”
According to Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation, 60,000 babies die on the day of their birth in Pakistan every year.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2013.
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