Non-availability of ambulance: NHRC takes note of Express report, issues notice to Sukma collector, health dept

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo moto cognizance of an Indian Express report on the unavailability of an ambulance to transport a couple with their deceased newborn back to their home in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma. The commission has served a notice to the district magistrate and the state health department.

In a letter issued to the Sukma district collector and the state principal secretary (health) on June 22, the NHRC has directed them to submit a report on the issue within 4 weeks.

On June 20, Kankerlanka residents Karma and Gangi were left stranded at a health centre 18 km from their village with their deceased baby in their hands. Earlier in the day, Gangi had given birth to a premature baby boy at the Kankerlanka sub health centre. After the baby developed health issues, the parents were referred to Dornapal health centre first, and then, district headquarters Sukma.

However, on the way to Sukma, the baby died. After that, the couple were dropped off at Dornapal health centre in an ambulance around 9 pm. According to Karma, they were assured that another vehicle would pick them up and take them to their village. No vehicle came until past midnight, when a local journalist drove them home.

Citing details from the Indian Express report on June 22, the NHRC said it raised “a serious human rights violation issue related to Right to Life with Dignity”.

Sources in the district said an inquiry has been ordered. “The ambulance driver who left the couple at Dornapal got another call and he prioritised it over dropping the couple back home,” a district-level official said, requesting anonymity.

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