Public blames govt for infants' death in Assam

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Guwahati, Oct 23 (UNI) A day after four infants died in Assam's Baksa district following pox vaccination, the general public today staged protest against the government at the Nimua Primary Health Centre (PHC) where the incident took place.

However, the government claimed using proper and genuine medicines.

Hundreds of people assembled in front of the PHC since morning and shouted anti-government slogans. The effigy of state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma was also burned.

A Central Health Department team is expected to arrive for investigating into the matter, after a doctors' team had rushed to the place immediately from Guwahati yesterday, with top pediatricians maintaining that death after vaccination was highly unnatural.

Vaccination at all the neighbouring centres was stopped after the incident, though no other reports of any casualty were reported from any other centre, except for the six sub-centres under Nimua.

Former state Health Minister Kamala Kalita today alleged that the vaccine was contaminated with toxic substances and demanded that Dr Sharma accept the responsibility.

He also pointed that the vaccines were procured from a little-known company, while the normal practise was to buy immunisation medicines from internationally reputed groups.

Altogether four infants, aged between 9 and 11 months, died and eight fell sick after being administered the pox vaccine at Nimua PHC in Salbari area of the district.

After vaccination, the children vomited and fell unconscious within half-an-hour and four of them died.

The vaccination drive was part of an all-India campaign against pox and measles, with the State Health Department sources claiming that spurious medicines could not be the cause.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, condoling the deaths, had immediately ordered additional Chief Secretary P P Verma to conduct a probe into the matter and submit a report at the earliest.

Mr Gogoi also announced ex-gratia of Rs one lakh to the families of the deceased.

Baksa Deputy Commissioner informed that the aggrieved parents and local people staged a demonstration at the Nimua PHC, demanding a probe into the incident.

He informed that other infants, who fell sick, were out of danger and some of them had been released from hospital yesterday.

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