The recent food poisoning incident in Bageshwar district which claimed four lives and left over 300 people ill after a wedding feast has once again brought to the fore the poor state of primary healthcare services in the hill region of Uttarakhand.
Over 370 villagers and invitees who ate at a wedding feast in Baste village of the district fell ill last week showing symptoms of food poisoning.
Four people, including two children aged five years, died during treatment at different hospitals after the incident which was termed as a coincidence by Uttarkhand Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat.
Reacting to his remark, Lalit Pharswan, the former MLA from Kapkot, said, "What is total failure of the medical system is being termed as a coincidence by the minister only to escape responsibility for the ill managed healthcare facilities in remote hill areas."
"It was a food poisoning incident of epidemic scale and we were hardly equipped to handle the situation with no ventilators, ICU, CCU facilities and pediatricians in our hospitals in Kanda, Bageshwar and Kapkot," Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Bageshwar district Jagdish Mandal said.
"As a result, we had to refer most of the admitted patients to higher centres at Haldwani, Pithoragarh and Almora," the CMO said.
All the 12 patients, airlifted to health centres in Haldwani, were saved as they reached there on time, he said.
Mandal said 33 posts of doctors against a sanctioned strength of 102 are lying vacant in the district.
The relatives of patients, who died at higher centres after being referred to from different PHCs here, alleged lack of medical care at the public heath centres which was the main reason for the deaths.
"My wife Nandi Devi (60) was admitted to Berinag primary health centre in the afternoon on November 30, but had to be referred to a higher centre on the same day at 8 pm. She died on December 1 at Haldwani hospital," said Pratap Singh.
"The nearest hospital of Berinag in Pithoragarh district had all facilities of first aid and primary treatment. Things went out of grip of the management due to sudden arrival of over 170 patients at a 10-bed hospital," Rajguru said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)