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Delhi dengue toll rises, govt to crack whip on hospitals that refuse patients

September 15, 2015 22:19 IST

Dengue menace continued to rattle Delhi with a six-year-old boy and a woman succumbing to the vector-borne disease, raising the toll to 11 even as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government was mulling bringing a law to enable temporary takeover of private hospitals during emergencies.

As hospitals across Delhi continued to be inundated with dengue patients, the Delhi Cabinet held an emergency meeting which reviewed the deteriorating situation. It also explored various options to ensure that private hospitals do not refuse to admit dengue patients.

The AAP government also announced 1031 as dengue helpline and asked private hospitals to increase number of beds.

Aman Sharma, a child from Srinivaspuri area of South Delhi died of dengue and his parents alleged that three private hospitals -- Max Saket, Moolchand and Batra -- refused to admit him citing unavailability of beds. He died on Sunday at Holy Family hospital in Okhla.

The boy's family also alleged negligence on part of Safdarjung Hospital saying it told them on September 9 that he did not have dengue. Aman died on Sunday at a private hospital.

Last week, seven-year-old Avinash Rout had died of dengue after being denied admission by five hospitals which drove his parents to suicide, triggering widespread outrage.

One more death of a 29-year-old woman due to dengue was reported in Lok Nayak Jaiprakash hospital. With this death, the dengue death toll in the city has risen to 11.

According to hospital authorities, the patient, a resident of north-west Delhi had come to the hospital on Monday evening and passed away within few minutes while she was being attended to.

Asked how government will run private hospitals in case their administration is taken over by it, officials said they are drafting a plan in this regard, without elaborating.

As cases of dengue continued to rise and inch towards the 2,000 mark, Kejriwal carried out surprise checks at Guru Teg Bahadur hospital and Dr Hedgewar Aarogya Sansthan in
Karkardooma and later said private hospitals which refused treatment to dengue patients will not be "spared".

"It is heartbreaking. We have become blind in the race to make more and more profit. We shouldn't forget our humanity. Nothing would have been lost if the hospital had treated the child. Would it have affected their profit margin so much," he said.

Kejriwal chaired a cabinet meeting in the evening and issued directions to extend all possible help to dengue patients.

Delhi government directed all the schools to ensure that children came to school dressed in full sleeves shirts, trousers and salwar kameez for the next one month as a preventive measure to avoid mosquito bites.

"We are planning to come out with a law so that hospitals refusing treatment to an emergency patient can be penalised," said Kejriwal.

The Cabinet decided that various options to penalise private hospitals will be finalised very soon.

It also discussed the possibility of convening a special session of the Delhi assembly to implement the option which the government will finalise to deal with negligence of private hospitals, the Chief Minister's Office said.

"To bring a new law, government may call a Special Session so that patients don't have to face problems during medical crises caused by dengue and other diseases. A final decision will be taken within two or three days," an official said.

The Delhi government will also soon launch an SMS awareness campaign for dengue, the official said.

The Chief Minister's Office said the cabinet stressed the need for ensuring accountability of private hospitals and felt the need to introduce an effective system of patient care.

"The cabinet reviewed the preparation to deal with the dengue situation in the national capital and decided to intensify the awareness campaign to prevent any panic which is leading to unnecessary rush in hospitals across Delhi," it said.

Separately, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain summoned administrators of all private hospitals and nursing homes in the city and asked them to ensure treatment to all dengue patients.

The Union health ministry also asked Delhi government to take strict action against hospitals refusing dengue patients and directed it to rein in private facilities overcharging them.

As the opposition parties stepped up pressure on the Delhi government over the dengue outbreak, Delhi government ordered a magisterial inquiry into the death of Avinash Rout.

The chief minister appealed to people to donate blood so that adequate quantity of platelets could be made available.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia conducted surprise inspection of various schools along with Environment Minister Asim Ahmed Khan to see whether authorities are taking precaution to curb breeding of dengue causing mosquito.

"Parents should send their children to schools only in clothes of full sleeves and the government will ensure that the uniform colour does not create any problem to the children," said Sisodia.

He also directed health authorities to issue challans to schools where mosquito breeding or water-logged areas were found.

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