What is the point of huge awareness campaigns about HIV and AIDS if the hospitals and doctors of the country can’t shake off the stigma around the disease? A hospital in Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh allegedly denied admission to an HIV positive pregnant woman. The husband of the woman blamed the hospital and claimed that medical negligence led to the death of newborn twins that she had been carrying.
The 24-year-old woman allegedly delivered the babies outside the maternity ward after being turned away. Claiming that his wife was not admitted after the hospital found out that she was HIV positive, the husband said: “The doctors and staff told me that they would not treat her because of the HIV infection. Our newborn girls could have been saved had they been treated in time.”
The hospital, however, has denied the allegations saying that the babies were “premature” and could not be saved due to “inadequate equipment and medical expertise” and not because of her being denied admission. “The woman is still being treated at the district hospital. This allegation is baseless that she and her twins were denied treatment because of her HIV infection,” District Hospital Civil Surgeon Ramesh Dandotiya said, adding that the twins were born in the seventh month and weighed about 500 grams each.
“Before her delivery, the woman was told that the foetuses were under-developed. We suggested family members to take her to neighbouring Jhansi or any other town, but they insisted on getting treated here. It was not possible to save the infants due to inadequate equipment and expertise here,” the civil surgeon said.
Calling the incident the “worst example of cruelty”, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the Madhya Pradesh government. They have also sought a report within four weeks, along with details of the action that is to be taken against the doctors and staff.
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