U.P. Health Minister seeks Rs. 10 lakh each from Centre for bereaved families

In what is turning out to be a State vs. Centre tussle, the Uttar Pradesh government has refused to take the blame for the death of four infants during immunisation in Mohanlalganj tehsil of Lucknow on August 21.

In a letter sent to the Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday, State Medical and Health Minister Anant Kumar Mishra said prima facie it appeared that the deaths were caused by sub-standard vaccines. Mr. Mishra demanded that financial help of Rs. 10 lakh be given by the Centre to each of the four bereaved families.

The Minister said the vaccines for measles and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), syringes and Vitamin-A syrup supplied to States by the Centre should be checked for quality.

Mr. Mishra said the samples used on August 21 have been sent to the Central Drug Laboratory, Kasauli, Madhya Pradesh and the report is awaited.

The deaths took place within an hour of the vaccines being administered. The children belonged to Bindauwa, Padminkhera and Rampurgarhi villages.

Five family welfare staff attached to the Community Health Centre, Mohanlalganj, including a medical officer, were suspended.

Three days since the incident the exact cause of the deaths is yet to be ascertained by the Central team of health officials led by Deputy Commissioner of Health Ajay Kheda, and the one constituted by the U.P. government.

The State committee is headed by Head of the Paediatrics Department, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University, G.K. Malik.

A magisterial inquiry has also been ordered by the State government. This is being conducted by Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Mohanlalganj S.K. Chaudhary.

The Central team is silent on its findings. Sources said the documentation has been completed and its report would be submitted to the Union Health Ministry.

The U.P. government's blaming of the Centre for supplying sub-standard vaccines, syringes and Vitamin-A syrup is based on the findings of the G.K Malik committee, released as a press statement on Monday night.

The spokesman said four teams were sent for immunisation in Mohanlalganj from the same cold chain on August 21 which immunised 215 children. There was no problem for three teams, but four out of the 35 children immunised by the fourth team died.