Congress hits back at BJP citing 200 infant deaths in Gujarat

12 infants, die, government hospital, J K Lon hospital, Kota, Rajasthan, 77 dead, 1 month, Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla, Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot
Every year 12 lakh infants are born. Of these, 30 out of every 1,000 infants die due to malnutrition, pre-mature delivery, health minister said. Representational image: iStock

As many as 200 children and infants have died in two government hospitals in BJP-ruled Gujarat’s Rajkot and Ahmedabad, a report said amid growing outrage over infant deaths in Kota and Jodhpur hospital (Rajasthan).

This assumed significance after the BJP leadership mounted an attack on the Rajasthan government after reports of infant deaths in Kota. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, on Sunday, reportedly refused to answer questions on the deaths in his state.

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Gujarat Health Minister Nitin Patel said infant mortality rate was 30 per 1,000. “Every year 12 lakh infants are born. Of these, 30 out of every 1,000 infants die due to malnutrition, pre-mature delivery, or because the mothers are not able to reach hospital in time,” he said.

GS Rathod, Superintendent of the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, said, “In December 455 newborns were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (ICU) and of this 85 died.” Rajkot Civil Hospital Dean Manish Mehta said, “111 children died in the month of December at Rajkot Civil Hospital.”

The Congress was quick to grab the opportunity to bite back. All India Mahila Congress president and party national spokesperson Sushmita Dev said, “134 children died in Rajkot civil hospital. In Ahmedabad civil hospital 85 children died. Will Narendra Modi and Dr Harsh Vardhan remain silent now? Hope the national media will highlight this tragedy.”

More deaths

Apart from the Kota deaths, the media had reported the deaths of over 100 infants in two government hospitals in Jodhpur in December 2019, too.

While a total of 146 children died in Umaid and MDM hospitals in Jodhpur in December, 102 deaths were reported in the Neo-natal intensive care unit. The figures of infant deaths in Jodhpur were given in a report prepared by the SN Medical College in the light of casualties in Kota’s JK Lon Hospital.

Over 100 infants have died in the government-run hospital in Kota. Principal of the SN Medical College SS Rathore, however, said the figure is in the range of international standards of infant mortality. “A total of 47,815 children had been admitted to the hospitals in 2019 and of this 754 children died,” said Rathore.

In December, 4,689 children had been admitted to the hospitals of which 3002 had been admitted to NICU and ICU and 146 of them died.

Rathore said most of the children who died were those referred from other surrounding districts in a critical condition. “The hospitals here have to bear the load of patients from entire Western Rajasthan and children were also referred from hospitals like AIIMS,” said Rathore. He said the critical care unit of the hospitals have been adjudged best in the entire state for two consecutive years and attributed it to their best practices and care.

Though Rathore denied any shortage of resources to deal with the pressure at the hospitals, there have been reports that many senior doctors have been running their own private hospitals.

Recently, notices had been served to these doctors including those, who have been running medical shops at their residences.

Political commentator Sumanth Raman said this was not merely about Congress-ruled states vs BJP-ruled ones. He said the public health system was on the verge of collapse and needed urgent action.

(With inputs from agencies)

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