No ambulance: Tribal woman waited for hours after delivery, losing newborn

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Referred to the district hospital in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma, a tribal woman allegedly was left stranded by a ambulance driver on Monday night, within hours after she delivered a boy who died while being taken to another hospital. The woman, Gangi, sat with her dead newborn and husband Karma for hours, waiting for an ambulance to take them back to their village, Kankerlanka, more than 50km from Sukma. Gangi went into labour on Monday evening. “We took her to the sub-health centre in Kankerlanka where she gave birth to a boy,” Karma recounted. When doctors found out that the newborn was not breathing properly, a referral was made to Dornapal health centre, 18 km from the village. At Dornapal, the couple were referred again to Sukma hospital, 35 km away.

According to the couple, however, their child died in the ambulance before they could reach Sukma. “After the child died, the ambulance driver turned around and dropped us back at the Dornapal health centre around 9pm,” Karma said.

While the couple was told another ambulance would come to take them back to the village, none came until past midnight.

A local journalist, Raja Rathore, drove them down to their village past midnight. “I tried to reach all the officials in the district health department, but no one responded. I even contacted the Collector who said he was arranging for vehicle but none came,” Rathore, a resident of Dornapal, said.

According to sources, the Dornapal hospital had ambulances available but the drivers were missing.

The Health Department officials have taken cognisance of the matter, while collector Vinit Nandanwar assured of an investigation. Nandanwar said he did send a vehicle as soon as he got to know, but the couple had left by then. “I am going to launch a thorough investigation and action will be taken against those found in the wrong,” he said.

The Health Department also issued a notice to the ambulance service operator, officials said.

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