35 children die in north Indian hospital in 3 days

2017-08-12 17:18
Manthala weeps as she hears the news of the death of her one-month-old son Roshan at Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur. (Rajesh Kumar Singh, AP)

Manthala weeps as she hears the news of the death of her one-month-old son Roshan at Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur. (Rajesh Kumar Singh, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lucknow - Parents of at least 35 children who have died in a state-run hospital in northern India over the past three days have alleged that the fatalities were due to the lack of a sufficient oxygen supply in the children's ward.

District Magistrate Rajiv Rautela said on Saturday that the deaths of the children being treated for different ailments at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur city in Uttar Pradesh state were due to natural causes.

He denied that an insufficient oxygen supply led to their deaths.

Parents said that the oxygen supply to the ward ran out on Thursday night and that patients' families were given self-inflating bags to help the children breathe.

"That's the time when the death of the children peaked," said Mritunjaya Singh, whose 7-month-old son was admitted to the hospital and was not among the dead.

Investigation

The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered an investigation.

Prashant Trivedi, the state's top health official, acknowledged that there was a problem in the pipeline supplying oxygen.

"But the situation was managed through oxygen cylinders," Trivedi said. "The hospital administration has enough supply of cylinders in its stock. So the report about death of children because of oxygen issue is false."

The parents said the company that supplies oxygen to the hospital had earlier threatened to stop the distribution of oxygen unless the government paid its long-overdue bills.

Rautela said that the hospital owed 6.8 million rupees ($106 000) to the company, but added that it had adequate numbers of oxygen cylinders.

Parmatma Gautam, whose 1-month-old nephew, Roshan, died when the oxygen supply stopped, said the hospital authorities and the district administration were trying to cover up their failure to pay the bills on time.

"We saw our baby struggling to breathe and we couldn't do anything," Gautam said as tears flowed down his weather-beaten cheek.

The family had rushed the new-born to the hospital from neighbouring Siddharthnagar district on August 9 because he had a high fever.

"We are now going back with his body," Gautam sobbed.

Blame

The federal health ministry sent a team of specialists to the hospital on Saturday to verify what caused the deaths at the facility, which provides healthcare to a vast swath of Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Bihar state.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders took to social media to blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules the state, for its neglect and indifference to people's health.

Opposition Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "Deeply pained. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. BJP govt. is responsible and should punish the negligent who caused this tragedy."

Some of the children had been treated for encephalitis, a disease that preys on the young and malnourished and is rampant in the state during the monsoon season, which runs from June till September.

The hospital, which has become a major centre for children with encephalitis, has treated nearly 370 cases in the last two months. Of these, 129 children died, said Satish Chandra, a hospital spokesperson.

Health activists said successive governments had ignored the threat posed by encephalitis as it was a disease that affected poor, malnourished children.

"Encephalitis has a mortality rate as high as 30%. The government needs to tackle it with a rigorous campaign," said R N Singh, a medical doctor who has been leading the fight against the disease in Gorakhpur district.

"Commonly, this disease affects the voiceless poor, so it has not got the attention it warrants," Singh said.

Gorakhpur is located 300km southeast of the state capital, Lucknow.

Read more on:    india

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Africa
 

Makeover saves dog’s life

Lucky Charlie got a complete make-over that helped him get adopted.

 
 

Paws

For the love of Corgis!
Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.