After Community Correspondent Mukesh Rajak exposed the medical negligence Aamna Bibi faced at the Sub Divisional Hospital in November 2013, more people living in and around Madhupur have come forward with their own similar experiences. The following is 12 year old Kundan Das' story who passed away on 5th January 2014.
Kundan Das came from a family of 5 – his parents and 2 sisters sustain themselves through wage labor. Residents of Jayantigram village of Pasia Panchayat in Madhurpur block, Deoghar, they lived a quiet life. On 17th Dec 2013, Kundan was walking home after relieving himself in the fields near his home (as there are no toilets in his house) when a fox attacked him. 12 year old Kundan and his parents reached the hospital at Madhupur around 5pm, an hour after the attack. Once there, they were told there was nothing that needed to be done and sent away without even a basic dressing of his wounds.
They heard about VV Community Correspondent Mukesh Rajak from some well wishers and made their way to his home in order to seek help. After he heard their story, Mukesh called one of the doctors, Dr Ramesh Kumar, whom he had recently come in contact with and asked why the child was not given the anti rabies vaccine and if they were out of stock. The doctor immediately asked the family to return and promptly administered some injections after which they went back to their village.
Mukesh interviewed Kundan that evening.
More than two weeks later, Kundan began to shows signs of hydrophobia, a classic symptom of rabies. He had received three shots of the anti rabies vaccines since his injury. When the family took him to Sub Divisional hospital in Madhupur on 4th Jan 2014, they were referred to Sadar Hospital in Deogarh. The family managed to take the child to Deogarh but were told that nothing could be done there. They were again referred to the District hospital at Ranchi.
At this point, things began to unravel further. The parents requested the hospital to admit Kundan as they did not have the funds to take him to Ranchi. They were told it was pointless to admit him there and were asked to proceed to Ranchi immediately. The parents asked the staff to administer some medication to ease the child’s condition and were told that the hospital didn’t have any drug that could help. Dejected and unsure of what to do, the parents called Mukesh and asked him to intervene again.
Mukesh called the Civil Surgeon, Dr. Diwakar Kamat (who is based at the Sadar Hospital Deogarh) and requested him to help arrange an ambulance to take the critically ill child to Ranchi as the parents barely had the money to hire a taxi. The Civil Surgeon obliged by saying that they could take the ambulance as long as they paid for it at the rate of Rs8/- per km, as per regulations. This was the same as what the private taxis were charging and the family didn’t have enough money. Despite repeated request this fee could not be waived nor reduced so the family had to go back home and arrange for the required funds. They intended to take the first train to Ranchi the next morning. Thus Kundan went home on the night of 4th Jan.
By 3 am on 5th January 2014, little Kundan breathed his last, leaving his family in shock and sorrow. Can a public health system put up its hands and wipe off of responsibility towards patients who have nowhere else to go? While Kundan’s death maybe the direct result of the disease, this case is another example of the apathy and negligence accorded to patients at the government hospitals in the district of Deogarh in Jharkhand.
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