KADAMANDAU (DOTI), Sept 9: The parents of four babies who died within 24 hours of being vaccinated against measles and other infectious diseases in Kadamandau VDC of Doti district last month are yet to overcome the trauma of their loss.
"My daughter was like a delicate flower," says Indira Chiral, a resident of Kadamandu VDC-7. "She was absolutely fine until she was given a vaccine. She died shortly after that. I will never forget."
Indira´s daughter Gauri was administered a DPT vaccine. Three other babies - Anju BK, Milan Damai and Sujata Nepali - were vaccinated against measles, at Kadamandau health post on August 19. They all died within the next 24 hours and they were all under 18 months old.
Indira wants to get over the tragedy and move on. But some people - representatives of NGOs, government officials and journalists - turn up at her doorstep almost every day to enquire about her baby´s death. "They make me recall the tragedy," says she. "And, I can´t help crying."
Like Indira, the parents of the other three babies also complain about being prodded quite frequently into recalling their children´s deaths. "I don´t mind somebody asking me about my daughter´s death," says Shanta Bahadur Nepali, Sujata´s father. "But, what irks me the most is they keep on asking the same questions and go back without even trying to fathom our agony."
"So many days have elapsed since our babies died," says Shanta Bahadur. "However, no one has so far promised us compensation."
Let alone compensation, the government has not even told the bereaved parents what exactly caused their infants´ deaths.
A week after the tragedy, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) issued a statement in Kathmandu that the vaccines used in Kadamandau were found contaminated at local level. But no government official has informed the bereaved families about this.
"Isn´t it the government´s duty to tell the bereaved families about the exact cause of their children´s deaths?" asks Amar Singh Chiral, a relative of one of the babies. Their families recently registered an application at Doti District Administration Office (DAO), urging the government to tell them the truth and provide them compensation. However, they do not know if the DAO has acted upon their application.
Meanwhile, a group of local human rights activists, who recently visited Kadamandau, has demanded that the government tell the bereaved families the truth about the vaccination tragedy, provide monetary compensation and take necessary legal action against those found guilty.