NHRC issues notice over refusal to treat HIV patient

New Delhi: Terming it the worst example of cruelty, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today issued notice to the Madhya Pradesh government over reports that doctors at a district hospital allegedly refused to treat a woman at an advance stage of pregnancy after they found she was HIV-positive. “Even as the woman delivered twins outside the maternity ward (of the Tikamgarh District Hospital), the hospital staff did not attend to them and as a result, the twins died half- an-hour after their birth on September 6,” the NHRC said.

“It is indeed the worst example of cruelty by the doctors and hospital staff, who turned their back to a patient whose life was in danger and who was in extreme need of medical care,” it added. Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports on the incident, the commission has issued notice to the chief secretary of the Madhya Pradesh government and sought a detailed report within four weeks, along with details of the action taken against the guilty doctors and staff of the hospital.

The commission said despite her advanced pregnancy, the woman was “referred to a hospital at Jhansi and pushed out of the maternity ward”. It also observed that the woman might have been HIV- positive, but she was in grave pain, begging for help at the doorstep of a state-run hospital and the doctors and staff, instead of showing a humane approach, pushed her out of the maternity ward, where she continued to lay writhing in pain.

“Jhansi is about 100 kms from Tikamgarh. The doctors should have been compassionate towards the woman, who was seeing her two newborns die in front of her,” the NHRC said. According to media reports published today, the 24-year- old woman from a village located at a distance of about 70 kms from the district headquarters was admitted to the hospital on September 5.