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July 16, 2019

Five-member investigation body formed after woman, child die at JPMC


July 16, 2019

A woman and her child died apparently due to transfusion of unmatched blood at the gynaecology department of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) on Monday, sparking a protest by their family inside the hospital.

“My sister-in-law, Nasreen Bibi, died today during childbirth at the gynaecology ward of the Jinnah Hospital, due to a reaction after blood transfusion,” said Mureed Ali, a relative of the deceased, while talking to The News. “We have been told that nurses are on protest, so unmatched blood transfusion resulted in the death of Nasreen as well as her baby.”

JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali confirmed that a 35-year-old woman died after childbirth through caesarean section at the gynaecology ward. She said they have formed a five-member committee to investigate the incident and present its report to her within 72 hours.

“Yes, a woman has expired at the gynaecology ward, and her relatives are calling for a probe. They believe unmatched blood transfusion could have resulted in a severe reaction, but we can’t say anything at the moment. Nurses are on boycott and doctors at the wards are under a tremendous pressure. We have to find out the real cause of death and address it,” Dr Seemin said.

There were also some unconfirmed deaths of a few neonates and toddlers at public hospitals, including the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), which are being shared on social media and being attributed to the ongoing protest by nurses, but the health authorities say that despite problems, they are managing the situation by reducing the inpatient flow.

On the other hand, despite the Sindh government’s assurance of resolving their issues in a couple of days, the protesting nurses continued their boycott of health services at the city’s major public hospitals — including the JPMC, the NICH, the Civil Hospital Karachi and several Sindh government hospitals — on the 12th consecutive day, causing immense hardships for the patients and their attendants, who were forced to take their families to private facilities for admission and medical treatment.

Hundreds of patients visiting the government hospitals continued to face immense difficulties on Monday due to the boycott by the protesting nurses, who gathered at a protest camp outside the Karachi Press Club and shouted slogans in favour of their demands as well as against the provincial government and the health department.

The Sindh government has bowed to the pressure of the protesting nurses and announced accepting their demands regarding promotions in accordance with a four-tier formula and payment of health allowances.

The provincial administration asked them to call off their boycott of health services at public hospitals across the province, but the nurses said they could not rely on such assurances until the issuance of an official notification.

“Today Sindh Health Secretary Saeed Awan invited us for talks and told us that in a meeting at the Chief Minister House, the finance secretary agreed to accept the nurses’ demands and urged us to call off our strike,” Aijaz Kaleri, leader of the protesting nurses, told The News.

“We thanked him and the provincial government, but we told him that without the issuance of an official notification, we cannot call off our strike.” The protesting nurses’ leadership said they were not ready to believe in the assurances by the health authorities, as they had fooled the nurses two months ago, when despite a written agreement with the protesting nurses, their demands were not met citing financial issues.

Sindh Assembly

Police on Friday had stopped the protesting nurses from approaching the provincial assembly building, where they intended to stage a sit-in and present their demands to the lawmakers.

The health department, however, included two representatives of the Sindh Nursing Alliance in the committee that was formed to resolve the issues of the protesting nurses. Several dozen nurses tried to march on the PA after the Friday prayers, but a strong contingent of the anti-riot police prevented them from moving towards the building.

The immediate adjournment of the sitting of the House also disappointed the protesting nurses, who had planned to draw the attention of the legislators towards their problems. Despite the adjournment of the assembly sitting, protesting nurses’ leader Aijaz Kaleri managed to meet PA opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi and apprised him of the issues being faced by the nurses, urging the opposition to raise their issues in the House.

He said Naqvi termed the nurses’ demands as justified, vowed to raise the protesters’ issues in the PA and present their demands before Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. The protesting health care providers said they would try to march on the PA building again next week if their demands were not met by then.

Governor House

On Wednesday the anti-riot police had briefly detained at least 14 nurses after a large number of protesting health care workers, who had boycotted even the emergency departments of Sindh’s public hospitals, tried to march on the Governor House, where Prime Minister Imran Khan was meeting traders and provincial officials.

Representatives of the protesting nurses said they wanted to gather in front of the Governor House to apprise the PM of their genuine issues that were not being resolved by the Sindh government.

The nurses decided to march on the Governor House after a delegation of the health department led by the special and additional secretaries of health tried to persuade them to call off their protest and give the health authorities at least 15 days to resolve their issues.