10 newborns die in Malda hospital

Barely a day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that her government has been able to reduce infant death rate in West Bengal by two per cent, 10 more infants died in the Malda Medical College and Hospital within 36 hours. While minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya informed that seven infants reportedly died on Wednesday, the hospital sources claimed eight deaths.

The parents complained that the babies died due to alleged medical negligence, but the hospital authorities denied it. They claimed that the infants died due to low birth weight and breathing ailments. “I have received reports that seven babies have died in the district hospital, out of which only one crib was born in the hospital and other six were referral cases,” Ms Bhattacharya said. The minister also claimed: “The hospital reports suggest that one baby was underweight and had come from Bihar while another had come from Jharkhand with broncho-pneumonia.”
Chief medical officer of health Swapan Kumar Jhariat said, “There has been no medical negligence. These seven babies have who have died in the last 24 hours were mostly premature born and underweight and some of them carried acute infections. The age of the babies ranged from three hours to three months.”
The parents also alleged that many doctors were on leave when the deaths occurred. Acting superintendent of the hospital Subrata Som declined to comment on the reason for the deaths but ruled out negligence on the part of the hospital staff. “I have taken charge today as the superintendent is on leave. I cannot comment on the reason of death but can certainly say there was no negligence from our part,” he added.
The minister of state for health further added, “There are conspiracies against the government on this issue. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is also aware of this and is taking necessary action. Sometimes it becomes very difficult for the doctors too as most of the babies are referral cases and come in critical conditions.”
It may be recalled that the chief minister who is also the state health minister was at the receiving end when six babies had died within a span of 10 hours in the same hospital in December, 2011. In the past two months, eight babies have died in the Malda hospital. Before that, between October 25 and October 28, 2011, 16 babies had died at the B.C. Roy Children’s Hospital, the only children’s referral hospital in Kolkata.

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