London expert to head Savita death probe in Ireland

Indo Asian News Service

London, Nov 20 (IANS) Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, a Sri Lanka−born expert on maternal care based at the University of London, has been appointed by Ireland's health authorities to head the investigation team into the death of Savita Halappanavar.

The Indian woman died Oct 28 at University Hospital Galway in circumstances that sparked a world−wide protest against abortion laws in Ireland.

An internationally recognised expert at St George's, the University of London's healthcare institution, Arulkumaran is also a honorary fellow of the Indian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists among other colleges in various countries.

He is currently professor and head of obstetrics and gynaecology and deputy head of clinical sciences at the institution and president of the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the global body dedicated to improving women and newborns' quality of life.

The inquiry headed by Arulkumaran will aim to determine the facts of Halappanavar's death, identify contributory factors and make recommendations to try to prevent a similar incident from occurring again, Irish officials said.

According to Ireland's minister for health, James Reilly, having the inquiry done properly and completely was key to getting the whole truth that Halappanavar's family would want. Three months was a realistic timeframe for the inquiry to be completed, he said.

Arulkumaran has led a similar inquiry in Britain in 2005 when the then health secretary, John Reid, appointed him to lead a review into the safety and quality of maternity services at Northwick Park Hospital in London after 10 mothers died there in the preceding three years.

Arulkumaran obtained his MD and PhD by research and Membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (MRCOG) and fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons by examination, according to St George's, where he is based.

Among his key achievements listed is the development of a 'clinical dashboard' to provide clinicians with the relevant and timely information they need to inform decisions that improve the quality of patient care.

Arulkumaran has published 24 books as author or editor, 240 indexed articles and more than 150 book chapters. He has also been editor in chief of Best Practice and Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology since 1998.