The Meghalaya Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on Tuesday issued notices to the Meghalaya Health & Family Welfare department and also to the Social Welfare department seeking detailed reports over the death of 877 newborn infants and 61 pregnant women in the state in months this year i.e. from April 2020 to July 2020.
Hearing a petition filed by a social activist, Agnes Kharshiing, the MHRC has directed the Commissioner and Secretary, Department of Health and Services and Additional Chief Secretary of Social Welfare department to answer the allegations made by the petitioner.
“…to submit a detailed report on the matter so as to reach the state commission within 30 days from the date of receipt of the notice for further necessary orders,” the Commission said in its order.
The commission also expressed deep concern with the matter which raises serious issues of violation of human rights as Article 21 of the Constitution mandates for protection of life and personal liberty to every citizen and right to life and and health is a fundamental rights and it is paramount duty of the state to protect and safeguard such rights of any individual.
In her petition, Kharshiing, also president of the Civil Society of Women’s Organization (CSWO), sought the intervention of the MHRC with regards to the death of 877 newly born infant and 61 pregnant women in the state during the month of April till July this year due to diseases other than coronavirus.
She states that the death of the 877 newborn infant and 61 pregnant women as clarified by the Director of Health Services is that death was due to lack of medical attention care, pneumonia and birth asphyxia and the death of most of the pregnant women was that they were not admitted in the hospital or health care centre for institutional delivery.
Kharshiing further stated that the state has 12 big hospitals including those private ones, 30 Community Health Centres (CHCs), 110 Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and also government-run civil hospitals in each of the 11 district headquarters and the state suffer from paucity of ambulances with only 72 ambulances serving the entire state.
She alleged that the right to health is integral to the right to life and the government has a constitutional obligation to provide health facilities which in this case the fundamental rights under Article 21 is being violated.
The next hearing on the matter has been fixed on November 20.