Tribal girl’s death: Whom to blame, school or hosp?

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Tribal girl’s death: Whom to blame, school or hosp?

Monday, 08 August 2022 | AJIT PANDA | NUAPADA

Death of Shivani Bhoi, a six-year-old tribal girl due to diarrhoea in the girls’ hostel of Nehena Sevashram (ST, SC Residential School) is taken suspiciously by tribal leaders of the locality. According to Ashram teachers, Shivani was admitted to the SDH immediately when she complained of loose motion and vomiting on August 3. However, despite treatment, she died in the evening. The question raised in various circles is, was she neglected?  If so, where, in the hostel or at the hospital?

According to the doctor who treated Shivani, her condition was critical when she was admitted. She had high fever and diarrhoea. Despite the efforts of doctors, she could not be saved. Health workers who treated her also said her condition was serious when she was brought to the hospital.

"If this is the case, did the girl's condition become so bad within an hour after vomiting started in the morning," asks Balkrishna Sabar, secretary of Zilla Adivasi Kalyan Sangha, Nuapada. The girl's elder sister is also an inmate of Nehena Sevashram. According to her, Shivani was suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhoea for two days.

"If what the elder sister says is true, then there has been negligence by school authority. In this context, it is absolutely necessary to question the existing system of health checkup of students in the Sevashram and enquire whether the system is working properly or not," says Motilal Bag, a former Member of School Management Committee. "Death of a child in a residential school in diarrhoea surely reflects some inadequacy in the system," says Sabar.

"The girl suffered from vomiting on August 2. The SDH is only five km away, but she was taken there after 24 long hours of her complaint. What should we conclude, lack of sensibility or irresponsibility on the part of the school authorities," he asks further.

The most surprising thing was that after the girl’s death, her body was hastily burnt in the presence of the Head Masters of seven Sevashrams of Khariar block although it is customary in tribal tradition to bury a body in case of children. "Will the Headmasters of the Sevashram schools, who went to the village with Shivani’s body provide a reasonable answer to this question," asks Sabar.

"The girl is gone. However, I request authorities to have an independent investigation," adds he.

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