Rajasthan infant tragedy: Death toll in Kota hospital hits 100 for December; political row sharpens

Nine more infant deaths on the last two days of December and three more newborns died on the first two days of the New Year.

Published: 02nd January 2020 03:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd January 2020 11:40 PM   |  A+A-

An elderly woman carrying a child at the JK Lon Hospital in Kota on Thursday

An elderly woman carrying a child at the JK Lon Hospital in Kota on Thursday (Photo| ANI)

Express News Service

JAIPUR: Infant deaths in Kota’s JK Lon Hospital seem to have no end as the toll for December has finally risen to 100.

While nine more infant deaths on the last two days of December and three more newborns dying on the first two days of the New Year, the tragedy at the JK Lon Hospital continues to become more grim. According to government figures, child casualties in JK Lon Hospital is 963 for the year 2019 as of now.

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All the babies who died at the hospital were admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). According to Vaibhav Galeria, the Secretary of  Medical Education heading a three-member team set up by the state government, most of the children were brought to the hospital in a critical condition,

The team had visited the hospital on December 27 to investigate the matter and had in its report admitted that some of the incubators at the hospital used for newborns were not in proper working condition.

The committee also pointed out that the extreme cold has made it tougher for babies, already fighting for their life, to survive. The committee report concluded that the deaths were reported due to lack of oxygen pipeline in the hospital and extreme cold conditions.

Meanwhile, the hospital's Chief of the Pediatrics Department, Amritlal Bairwa said the eight kids who died in the last two days of the year were premature deliveries who also suffered from mild infections and that the deaths were not due to any fault or negligence on the part of doctors at the hospital.

"The weight of the newborns was too less and also their relatives did not follow proper instructions during delivery due to which the pregnant mothers came to the hospital in serious condition," said Bairwa. The hospital has registered 963 deaths in 2019.

Hospital suprintendent Suresh Dulara claimed that the number of infants deaths at the hospital in 2019 was lower than the infants deaths in last 6 years. "As compared to other government hospitals, this number stands quite low. Also, one death a day means that the death rate is falling down in this hospital, which witnessed 91 deaths in December last year," he said.

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The spate of deaths has also triggered a political slug-fest. While the state BJP-Congress have been trading charges for over a week, UP CM Yogi Adityanath and BSP supremo Mayawati have also slammed the Gehlot government for its failure in protecting newborns at the government-run hospital in Kota. Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan met union health secretary and asked him to take stock of the health services at the Kota hospital at the earliest.

In contrast, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and Health Minister Raghu Sharma have repeatedly claimed that most of the children who died were referred to the hospital in critical condition from nearby districts, including regions of neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.

Gehlot has also defended his government by saying that the alarming number of deaths at JK Lon hospital is in fact an improvement over what the previous BJP government had recorded at the same hospital.

After union minister Harshvadhan's comments, Gehlot on Thursday tweeted further," I telephoned Central Health Minister @drharshvardhan ji and requested him to visit #Kota personally so that he can see the best of facilities and proper management by State Health Department and get himself apprised of the facts."

"Harsh Vardhan ji is himself a doctor and if he visits the hospital in #Kota, it will also clarify the situation for people, who are giving reaction mischievously, knowingly, unknowingly and also innocently," he wrote in another tweet.

However, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi discussed the Kota tragedy with AICC-Incharge for Rajasthan Avinash Pandey and reportedly Mrs Gandhi is "upset" and "wanted to know the reason of the deaths". This is likely to pile on more pressure on the Gehlot government.

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Mercifully, the government has now initiated some corrective steps for the upgradation and maintaince of  medical equipments  and reconstruction of the Pediatrics unit at JK Lon hospital.

Dr Vjay Sardana, principal of the Medical College in Kota said, "A work order for installation of a central oxygen supply line in the hospital has been issued and work would be completed within 15 days. A proposal for the new OPD  and emergency wards for the Paediatric and Gynecology has also been incorporated in the proposed OPD block."

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