SHILLONG, July 31 - The Meghalaya High Court has taken serious note of a newborn’s death at a Government-run hospital here, allegedly due to the social stigma attached to COVID-19. The Meghalaya High Court has sought further details on the incident from the State Advocate General.
During a hearing on the ongoing pandemic, the Meghalaya High Court has directed the Advocate General to get more details on the child’s death and furnish them before it.
“This Court notes that this incident has in the past few days been widely reported and is indeed very unfortunate to say the least, more so, when the mother of the baby is a resident of a designated containment area wherein strict protocols and SOP’s are supposed to be in place,” the court observed.
The issue was brought before the court by the Meghalaya Bar Association, which has filed a PIL on the pandemic. Since the details were furnished orally, the court also asked the petitioners to file an affidavit in this regard.
The incident took place a few days back when an expecting mother was initially refused admission to the Ganesh Das Hospital as she had reportedly come from a containment zone at Mawlai-Mawtawar.
The doctors and staff of the hospital said that there was no bed in the isolation ward and therefore, she could not be admitted as the other patients would be at risk as her COVID-19 status was unknown.
The woman reportedly offered to stay in the corridors of the hospital as she was in labour, pain. The staff, however, refused her request and advised her to go to a private hospital instead.
The woman’s husband, a daily wage earner, was unable to take his wife to a private hospital, and the duo returned home.
She was later admitted to the hospital only after the intervention of NGOs, but her child died immediately after delivery.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Zenith Sangma has demanded that the Government should come up with a “strong legislation or ordinance”, notifying social stigma a criminal offence.
Slamming the Meghalaya Government, Sangma said the incident is a reflection of the “inefficiencies and lack of experience” in leadership and governance. He said that only after “something goes wrong or some precious life is lost,” the Government springs into action.
The Mawlai MLA has also petitioned the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission to intervene in the matter and take action.