The incident of a pregnant woman giving birth to a child outside the Salem Government Medical College, reported in TheHindu on Monday, has shocked the community and pushed the State into taking action.

An enquiry report has been sought from the dean of the Government Medical Hospital in Salem. Reportedly, according to initial information from hospital sources, the woman in question had “taken a walk” because of a misunderstanding. The patient, being a migrant from Andhra Pradesh, did not understand Tamil and this resulted in the misunderstanding, sources alleged. Three other deliveries were being conducted at that particular time, and she was asked to wait, not to pay a bribe, they further claimed.

Higher authorities in the Health Department refused to accept this explanation, stating strongly that on no account should a pregnant woman in labour be pushed to a position to walk out of a hospital.

“Even if the staff was busy with the other deliveries, someone should have attended to Laxmi and ensured that she was taken care of until she could be moved to the labour room,” a highly-placed source said.

Also, acknowledging that language was a communication barrier, given the influx of migrants into the State, health authorities have issued instructions to map and track pregnant women and children among migrant workers.

“There are a number of workers from other States, and some of them speak only in Hindi. It is likely that these workers will find their way to government hospitals for their healthcare needs. Despite the relatively high standards of healthcare in the public sector in Tamil Nadu, we must ensure that the needs of these people too are addressed whenever the opportunity arises,” an activist working among migrant workers added.

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