NHRC issues notice to UP chief secretary over reports of 32 torch-lit cataract operations in Unnao, seeks patients' details

Lucknow: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took suo motu cognisance of 32 cataract patients allegedly operated upon under torchlight at a primary health centre in Unnao, even as the opposition ridiculed the Uttar Pradesh government for its failure to provide electricity to a state-run hospital.

An official statement released by the rights body said the contents of the media reports reveal negligence on part of doctors and are a sad commentary on the status of infrastructure facilities available in the hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, particularly non-availability of backup power supply in operation theatres.

 NHRC issues notice to UP chief secretary over reports of 32 torch-lit cataract operations in Unnao, seeks patients details

Representational image. Reuters

The Commission has issued a notice to UP chief secretary, asking him to furnish information about the incident, within two weeks.

Latching on to the incident, Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said it was ridiculous that the state government was signing "power for all" agreement, but the fact remains that even government hospitals are functioning without electricity.

Echoing similar concerns, senior Congress spokesman DP Singh said, "The government has failed in keeping its promise to provide electricity to villages and cannot even ensure power supply to a community health centre, where the poor go for treatment".

Meanwhile, the NHRC has asked the state government to furnish details of 32 persons (or the exact number) like the names, addresses and phone numbers of those operated on 25 December at primary health centre, Nawabganj in Unnao.

The NHRC also wanted to know whether the operated persons were able to see clearly after the procedure; why there was no backup power supply in the hospital, especially in the operation theatre; what action was taken against the doctors and hospital management for performing cataract operations in torchlight; have the doctors been performing operations in such a manner earlier; and finally, in case of power break down in the hospital, what alternative source of light is used by the facility.

The Unnao district administration on Wednesday suspended the chief medical officer after reports surfaced that 32 cataract patients were operated upon in torchlight for want of steady electricity supply at the state-run facility.

According to the media reports, some relatives of the patients also complained that they were not provided with any beds after the procedure, and that they were made to lie down on floors despite extreme cold weather conditions.

Updated Date: Dec 28, 2017 11:16:19 IST