Nirmala, a resident of Faridabad’s Nangla Enclave Part 2, had gone into labour around 6am. Her husband Ravinder called the helpline (108) for ambulance, but the family alleged the call didn’t go through. Meanwhile, Nirmala delivered a baby boy, after which the family took her to a nearby private clinic. The doctor there advised them to take her to a bigger hospital. With no other option available, the family put her in a small truck and rushed to Badshah Khan General Hospital, where doctors declared her dead on arrival.
In another case, a pregnant woman delivered a boy in an auto in which her family was taking her to hospital, allegedly because they could not avail the ambulance service. By the time they reached hospital, the newborn had died. The woman, Bhagwati, lives in Mewla Maharajpur area.
On Saturday evening, Mamta (25) ended up delivering a baby girl in a shanty they live in within the premises of the first referral unit (FRU) clinic in Sector 3, which is closed due to the strike. Her husband Bhagirath works as a labourer there. They too had tried for an ambulance to take Mamta to another hospital, but the service was allegedly unavailable. She was eventually taken to a private hospital for treatment.
Faridabad has a fleet of 14 ambulances, of which, around a dozen are on duty at the Surajkund Mela every day. With over 680 NHM workers on strike in the district, the health department has only seven drivers working these days. Officials are managing by borrowing ambulances from private hospitals. Under the Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram scheme, a pregnant woman is supposed to ger free ambulance services to and from government hospitals for childbirth.
Several complaints have been filed with the health department on this issue. Officials who inquired said prima facie, the incidents did not happen due to non-availability of ambulances. Dr Gulshan Arora, chief medical officer, Faridabad, told TOI that an inquiry was still on. “So far, our inquiry shows these mishaps didn’t happen due to non-availability of ambulances. Every demand raised for an ambulance is recorded and an automatic online entry is made. Prima facie, it appears that ambulances were not sought by these patients. However, the inquiry is still under progress and we will divulge more details after it is completed.”
Meanwhile, NHM workers have started a “relay” hunger strike, with five workers on hunger strike at a time. As a result, 18 primary health centres in Gurugram have been temporarily shut. The ambulance service in the city too is affected, as only six of the 19 ambulances are operational in Gurugram district, and there are 14 outsourced drivers for them. Even these get diverted to other duties, such as VIP visits. For instance on Wednesday, one each was sent on duty to public programmes of Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju and chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.