GUHAWATI: Seven newborns died in 24 hours at a government medical college and hospital in Assam, a little over a month after the recent deaths of 60 infants at a Gorakhpur hospital within days.
The deaths were reported from the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital in western Assam’s Barpeta. According to reports, five of the newborns died between 7 pm and 11:35 pm on Wednesday while two others died on Thursday.
Locals alleged that the deaths were caused by medical negligence and inadequacy of medical facilities. They claimed that 26 doctors had “resigned” from the hospital over the past few months. The state’s health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, however, attributed the deaths to the “critical nature” of the cases.
“They were in sick new born care unit and proper medical attention was given. It is solely the critical nature of the cases that led to the deaths. Two mothers are below 20 years of age. Barpeta medical is witnessing less Infant mortality this year compared to previous years…
“In child care part (sic), we have a stable number of doctors and in fact, just before two months, we opened a sick new born care unit and augmented manpower. No doctor from paediatrics department has resigned to the best of my knowledge. IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) has been going down in the past two months. These mortalities are related to the purely critical nature of the casse like age of the mother, weight of the baby etc,” Sarma said.
Barpeta deputy commissioner (district magistrate), Thaneswar Malakar, told New Indian Express that a senior official of the National Rural Health Mission had rushed to the hospital and was taking stock of the situation along with officials of the district administration.
For long, the lack of doctors has been plaguing Assam’s health department. For 40 years until 2009, not a single medical college was built in the state. Those days, only three medical colleges – one each in Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Silchar – extended services to the people. In 2009, during then Congress regime, the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital was built. Later, two more medical colleges came up in Tezpur and Barpeta. The public claims that these hospitals face an acute shortage of doctors.