The Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has taken up a suo moto case against medical officers and staff nurses for not joining Ukhrul District Hospital after transfer and posting.
A report was filed by the MHRC registry, based on camp sitting cum human rights awareness programme held from July 18 to 20 in Ukhrul district.
The commission's report stated that representatives of NGOs, Human Rights Defenders and Child Rights Activists, at the conference hall of Deputy Commissioner, Ukhrul on July 19, 2022, raised various issues including lack of infrastructures and manpower in government schools.
A critical issue was raised whereby it was reported that many children separated from their parents and guardians for education and promises of jobs have fallen victims to child trafficking and use of substance abuse.
On health issues, reports of acute shortage of doctors and paramedics in Ukhrul District Hospital were raised.
The MHRC stated that despite acute shortages of medical officers and staff nurses in the Ukhrul District Hospital and Primary Health Centres, 15 government employees failed to join or report to their respective postings till date.
The MHRC noted that this is not the first time that government employees, such as medical officer/staff nurses or staffs failed to join their respective postings despite having transfer and post order issued by competent authority in the name of the governor of Manipur.
The commission views that non-joining of the medical officers at their respective place of posting is a human rights violation by omission, the commission said. Hence, it is registered as MHRC Suo-Moto Case under section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, it stated.
Thereafter, the commission recommended the additional chief secretary (Health & Family Welfare), government of Manipur and director of Directorate of Health Services, government of Manipur to respond to the camp sitting report in two weeks’ time.
The commission further recommended medical officers and staff nurses, who failed to join their respective posting places, to submit their responses as required under section 16 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
The commission stated that in the event of their failure to submit a required report to the commission may invoke coercive measures under section 14 (a) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
Further, the commission proceeding regarding the suo-moto case also added that the complaint of the community-based organizations who interacted with the MHRC requested for a timely recommendation for availability of ART at nearest PHCs and doorstep delivery of the same, as reported, in line with the promises made by the chief minister on the World AIDS Day Observation in December, 2021.
The MHRC investigated the latest stock records and consignment of the medicines at the District Hospital, and observed that the medicines namely ‘Dolutegravir Tablets 50 mg’ and ‘Abacavir Sulphate and Lamivudine Dispersible Tablets 60 mg/30 mg’ for HIV infected patients were found to be expired on July, 2022 and August, 2022 respectively. It is inevitable that the medicines would cross the expiry date at the time of distribution and therefore, the beneficiaries are reluctant to consume the same, the commission noted.
The MHRC also noted that the OST Centre located at District Hospital Ukhrul is covering as many as 424 active clients. The MHRC has been informed that the number of drug dependents are increasing during and in the post Covid-19 pandemic, aggravated by unemployment and returnees from other regions. It was reported that the unofficial number of drug dependents has increased tremendously.
It was informed to the commission that there are 1,280 patients approximately under Ukhrul and Kamjong District who are under ART treatment. There is a staff shortage at the ART Centre located in Ukhrul District. HIV infected patients who are staying in far flung areas have to come to Ukhrul District Hospital to get ART. For instance, a patient from Jessami has to travel to Ukhrul, which is around 113 km, just to get his/her ART. Many patients who are under ART treatment from far flung villages have not visited District Hospital due to transportation, financial and other unseen issues, which has resulted in the threat for further infections and spread, causing a concern for Human Rights violation.
The commission recommended the project director of Manipur State Aids Control Society to examine the matter and issue and submit an action taken report in two weeks.