Sunday, May 20, 2007

RMCH Incident: Committee starts Probe

RMCH Incident
Committee starts probe

A high-powered ministerial committee yesterday started investigating the Thursday's incident at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) that led to the death of four patients in absence of treatment.

But the committee drew flak from the victims' families as one of its members is the representative of the hospital director who the family members said was responsible for the incident.

The family members said inclusion of the representative of the director in the probe committee might influence its findings.

Two committee members -- Deputy Secretary of the health ministry Muhammad Abdullah and Deputy Director of the health directorate Dr Atiqul Haque -- came to Rajshahi from Dhaka on Friday night at the instruction of the chief adviser to caretaker government, the team members said.

Additional Deputy Commissioner (education) of Rajshahi Satyendra Kumar Sarkar was inducted into the committee as representative of the district administration and Dr Bulbul Hossain as the representative of RMCH director, sources said.

Sima Khatun and three other patients died without treatment on Thursday while Sima's husband Shahabul Islam, a Chapainawabganj jail guard, was beaten up during a clash between intern doctors and patients' attendants on Wednesday.

Probe team leader Muhammad Abdullah told The Daily Star that the committee will submit its report within three days. "We will recommend punitive action against the persons responsible and the measures to avoid such incidents in future."

The team members visited Rajshahi Central Jail Hospital and talked with injured prison guard Shahabul. They also recorded the statements of Shahabul's mother Rizia Khatun, brother Ibrahim Khalil, and niece Tanzila Khatun at the circuit house.

They also recorded the statements of 10 intern doctors, two nurses, three witnesses and several RMCH staffs.

However, Sima's family members told reporters that they have doubts about the impartiality of the probe committee.

"It is he [RMCH director] who asked Rab (Rapid Action Battalion) to beat Shahabul at his office and his action prompted interns to go on wildcat strike [that led to the death of four patients]...So, how can we expect justice?" said Quamruzzaman, younger brother of Shahbul.

Meanwhile, Dr Bulbul, coordinator of One Stop Crisis Centre at RMCH, has been acting as the spokesman for RMCH director since Wednesday.

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