The deaths of two pregnant women here last week, one at the T.D. Medical College, Vandanam, and the other at the Women & Child Hospital near the Alappuzha Beach, have triggered yet another controversy over the functioning of Government hospitals in the district headquarters.

Both the deaths were on last Friday. Soumya, 23, an eight-month-pregnant woman from Mannanchery, was admitted to the W&C Hospital around 1.30 p.m. with labour pains. According to her mother-in-law Fathima, Soumya was immediately shifted to the labour room. A little while later, the duty doctor said she would have to be taken to the Medical College wing in the town since her condition was serious, allegedly refusing to divulge further details. Fathima says that doctors at the Medical College said Soumya was brought dead. The family then lodged complaints, alleging medical negligence, with the Chief Minister, the Health Minister and other authorities after which an enquiry was ordered into the issue.

District Collector P. Venugopal, who was directed to conduct the enquiry, ordered for a post-mortem and a report from a five-member doctors’ panel. The report is expected in a couple of days.

The second incident was in the T.D. Medical College Hospital at Vandanam. Ashadevi, a pregnant woman from Paravoor near the MCH, was brought with labour pains on an auto-rickshaw by her aged mother and a niece. At the hospital, there was no stretcher available to move her to the labour room. By the time bystanders and other members of the public came and took her inside, she was bleeding heavily and soon breathed her last.

Relatives have pointed out that it was a long-standing complaint that the MCH, despite being elevated to a referral hospital with the aim of making it a Centre of Excellence, is yet to have basic infrastructure in place. It was not long back that a man, brought to the hospital with a heart attack, fell down when the rusty stretcher carrying him broke into two, resulting in the man’s death.

This is not the first time State-run hospitals here have been in the eye of a storm over complaints related to severe shortage of equipment, staff and basic facilities. The MCH at Vandanam is yet to have a morgue attached to it after being shifted from its town premises to Vandanam. The morgue at the previous premises in the town, meanwhile, has been defunct for over a month now and complaints over decomposed bodies in the morgue, situated close to the labour room there, are galore.