PATNA: Even as the death of over 100 babies, including many newborns, in less than two months at a government-run hospital in the state prompted NHRC to seek a report on Monday and the Opposition Congress blame the government, the authorities denied medical negligence and attributed the deaths to malnutrition and postnatal complications.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took suo moto cognisance of reports about the death of more than 100 infants in July and August at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Medical College and Hospital in Jamshedpur and issued a notice to Jharkhand chief secretary Rajbala Verma.
The central rights body asked the BJP-led government headed by Rahubar Das to submit a detailed report on the deaths within six weeks.
Of the 546 infants, including 141 newborns, admitted to MGM Hospital in July, 60, including 52 newborns, died, said an official of the hospital citing records.
Similarly, of the 470 infants, including 116 newborns, admitted there in August so far, 41, including 33 newborns, died. Sources said as many as 164 babies had died at the hospital in the past three months.
After a city-based human rights organisation, Jharkhand Human Rights Conference, raised the issue in July, the government awoke a month later and sent a four-member team of health department officials to conduct a probe on Friday.
While the Opposition Congress staged protests on Monday accusing the hospital authorities of negligence and the government of indifference, a member of the probe team and the MGM Hospital superintendent strongly denied medical negligence charges.
“Most of the infants who died at this hospital were suffering from severe malnutrition. They were born at other hospitals in nearby towns such as Chaibasa and Seraikela and were shifted to MGM Hospital as a last resort. Some of those infants were also from West Bengal and Odisha,” said KC Munda, the civil surgeon of East Singhbhum district
However, despite MGM Hospital being known as an excellent hospital in the steel city of Jamshedpur, the spate of deaths of babies exposed insufficient and faulty infrastructure.
There are only six incubators at the paediatric department of this hospital that receives nearly 1,000 patients daily, and four of them have been defunct for months, said sources.
Similarly, two of the six ventilators have been lying defunct for months.