Gogoi announces Rs.5 lakh each to HIV victims, four officials suspended

Guwahati, June 17 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Monday announced compensation of Rs.5 lakh each to the three people who tested HIV-positive after receiving blood from a state-run hospital, and said the government would bear the expenses for their treatment.

The Assam government had already instituted a one-man inquiry commission by the state’s Additional Chief Secretary P.P. Varma into the incident. The probe report is to be submitted to the state government in a month.

On Monday, the state’s advocate general was asked to explore the legal option for initiating deterrent action against those found guilty for the serious lapse.

The chief minister also directed state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to head to Mangaldoi Civil Hospital in Darrang district, about 70 km from Guwahati, to take stock of the situation.

The government had also suspended the in-charge of the Blood Bank of the Mangaldai Civil Hospital, the superintendent of the hospital and two laboratory technicians at the blood bank for negligence.

Meanwhile, the health minister, addressing the media at his office Monday, said that the medical team, which was sent to the Mangaldai Civil Hospital to carry out an independent inquiry had submitted its report.

“As per the inquiry report of the medical team, it was found that one of the victims got the infection three to four years back. So he did not contract the disease during the recent blood transfusion at the hospital. The report confirmed that a woman victim, who accepted blood of the particular donor, contracted the virus after the transfusion. There is another woman who had also alleged that she contracted the disease through the blood bank. However, we are yet to confirm how she contracted the virus,” the health minister said.

Sarma apologised for the mistake on the part of health department and said that he had asked the joint director of the health services to file an FIR with the district police against the four suspended officials, seeking a criminal investigation against them for their negligence on duty, which led to the spread of the virus through the blood bank.

Sarma also announced that from now on, the state government would reserve 2.5 percent of the grade III and grade IV jobs in the health department for people living with HIV infection.

He also said that efforts would be taken to bring all the blood banks under CCTV surveillance and also to prepare a database of all blood donors, which can be accessed by anyone in case of an emergency.

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