New Delhi, Jan 5: The deaths of more than 100 infants in a Kota hospital in Rajasthan is not the first of these tragic incidents nor the last but a recurring pattern that only serves to expose the rotting system.
While the Opposition BJP has targeted the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress Government for the deaths of 110 infants since December 1, there is no doubt that the Chief Minister's defence on reduced number of deaths since his government took over, has not cut any ice. Though blame for the tragedy is being pinned on doctors’ negligence and obsolete equipment, hospital authorities say it is due to the large numbers of referral cases that JK Lon Hospital gets from surrounding areas.
Many of these tiny patients are sick, premature newborns requiring critical medical support at the time of admission to the hospital. Sadly, a similar tragedy was enacted in Rajkot district of Gujarat where 134 infants died in December 2019 alone. According to reports, the deaths of the infants in Kota and Rajkot can be blamed on malnutrition, diseases from birth, premature birth, and mother's malnourishment. Underweight newborns who get the required medical attention can survive these deficiencies but not when ventilators are not functioning or there is inadequate equipment to sustain them. In Kota, only 213 of the 530 different types of items — ventilators, warmers, ECG machines, defibrillators, nebulisers - were in working condition, a report said.
However, doctors of the hospital have claimed that there is not an iota of truth that the deaths were due to negligence. They blamed the deaths on critical cases being referred to the hospital. Families of infants born in nearby areas as well as adjoining areas of Madhya Pradesh have traditionally brought their ailing children to the hospital for treatment. An official inquiry into the deaths in Rajasthan has said the infants died of hypothermia conditions meaning drop in body temperature. Lack of adequate infrastructure and facilities was also cited as the newborns were not kept in warmers in the chill December temperature.
The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the State Chief Secretary to submit a detailed report within four weeks about the steps being taken to prevent a repeat of such deaths. The Centre has to rethink its strategy as to how similar deaths can be prevented in future. Otherwise the slogans of the Pradhan Mantri Matri Vandana Yojna assuring maternal and neonatal health will fall flat. (UNI)