Inadequate infrastructure, coupled with shortage of staff has reduced the children’s wing in SVR Ruia government general hospital in Tirupati, to an ineffective institution, where as many as 691 have died in the last seven and a half months.
Lack of oxygen supply was said to be the reason for the deaths of six infants on Wednesday, which forced the state government to order an inquiry into the incident, but it appears to be only the tip of an iceberg.
The children’s wing at SVR Ruia, which caters to the needs of people from Chittoor, Kadapa and Nellore districts, particularly those from poor families from rural areas, is lacking woefully in several areas.
At any given time, there will be no less than 200 children, of whom 75 percent with serious ailments, as against the bed strength of 90. It has become a rather common sight at the hospital to find two or three children undergoing treatment sharing a single bed.
As against the required 30 doctors, there are only 12 seniors-- three pediatric professors and nine assistant professors. Four of them specialise in neonatology and postnatology. All the doctors work at SV Medical College attached to Ruia hospital and a majority of them were entrusted with the additional responsibility of inspecting private medical colleges, invigilation duty at exams etc.
Parents of the children admitted to the hospital complain that senior doctors are never available. “on holidays and Sundays, they are definitely not available and we pray to God to save our children,” says Sarojamma, while Sikander and other parents nod in agreement. They also point out that many senior doctors have private practice. “They stay here for a few hours and leave. We are not sure whether they will come again or not,” complain the parents of another child admitted to the hospital. There is also shortage of nurses and other technicians. As against the required 35 nurses, there are only 12. There are no technicians to handle advanced medical equipment, which is gathering dust.