KOZHIKODE: Health workers are terrified and are simmering over two junior public health nurses being assaulted at Thurayur Primary health centre on August 23 while on duty. Though there were many instances of verbal abuse and a concerted campaign against immunization from various quarters, a physical attack was the first, health workers say. A mother, her father and another man first allegedly assaulted a nurse and then another who tried to save the first.
The nurses were attacked while administering immunization at the hospital. They were targeted on the assumption that the woman’s 11-month-old son caught a fever after he was immunized on July 19. “The child did not take the pentavalent dosage due in the third month. That was given on July 19 along with another for measles which was to be given in the 10th month. The health department was not at fault,” said district RCH (reproductive and child health) officer Sarala Nair. The child is learned to have become feverish some days back and a consultation with a pediatrician made the mother believe that the immunization caused the sickness.
The incident was triggered by gross misunderstanding, lamented Dr Sarala. “We want safety and protection while on duty. The culprits should be arrested immediately,” urged the Kerala Junior Public Health Nurses and Supervisors’ Union district president Deenamma Vargheese. A case against three persons, including the woman was registered at Payyoli police invoking non-bailable sections as per the Kerala Healthcare Service Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act.
The district has only achieved 27 per cent in immunization (April 2017-July) against the targeted 33 per cent. “The assault would definitely dampen the spirit of health workers,” pointed out district medical officer Dr V. Jayashree. The issue has been reported to the Directorate of Health Services (DHS). Meanwhile, nurses and others came to work wearing a black badge on Thursday as a token of protest.