HYDERABAD: The series of infant deaths at government-run Shishu Vihar had brought the shelter home under the lens of activists a while ago. As recently as on August 19, a 20-day-old Shishu Vihar inmate died without getting timely medical care. The baby boy, who was born of a minor rape survivor, was denied treatment at a private hospital because the centre was on strike at the time due to non-payment of their Aarogyasri dues.
It is learnt that while the rape survivor had planned to keep the child initially, she handed him over to Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) officials after he was diagnosed with jaundice at birth, expecting that he would receive better health care this way. The ICDS officials then transferred the child to Shishu Vihar. According to highly-placed officials, the baby was not showing signs of any recovery a week before his death.
“When the cases are sensitive, we take them to private hospitals empanelled with the Aarogyasri scheme. On that week, however, the doctors were on strike,” said a senior official. When they were turned down by the private hospital, the officials took the child to Niloufer Hospital. However, the child was allegedly sent back again. In the meantime, he acquired blood jaundice which worsened his condition. He eventually died at Niloufer.
An enquiry into the issue of infant deaths by the Department of Women Development and Child Welfare has highlighted such incidents as a result of the non-availability of timely health care. In previous cases as well, the kids were taken to Niloufer.
The officials are now batting for an exclusive health care centre for the department’s complex. At present, the Shishu Vihar has only 4 visiting doctors to monitor close to 250 children from 0 to 6 age groups. When children fall sick, they are sent to other hospitals.