Monday, December 5, 2011

Callous attitude

The West Bengal govt seems unconcerned even after scores of children died in state-run hospitals. It also shows the poor condition of health care system.

Sopan Correspondent/ Kolkata

Ten infants died at the B.C. Roy Children's Hospital in Kolkata, West Bengal's only paediatric referral hospital, on October 26. Twenty-one infants had earlier died in a span of 48 hours in the hospital between June 27 and 28. On October 31, a baby died after birth because carbolic acid was used instead of dettol to disinfect during delivery at the Lalbag sub-divisional Government Hospital in Murshidabad. On October 29, 12 babies died at the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital.
B.C. Roy Children's Hospital authorities maintained that there was nothing unusual about the deaths. Hospital head Mrinal Kanti Chattopadhyay said the crib deaths were due to the "critical condition of the babies when they are admitted". The 360-bed hospital, he added, is ill-equipped to handle the average 50 admissions a day. "At least half the babies admitted to our hospital are referred by district hospitals when little can be done to save them," he said. Explaining the Burdwan deaths, Tapas Kumar Ghosh, Deputy Superintendent of Burdwan Medical College and Hospital, said the infants that died were suffering from jaundice, encephalitis and septicemia and were severely underweight.
The spate of deaths shows that healthcare in state government hospitals continues to remain in a sorry shape. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had rushed to the B.C. Roy Children's Hospital soon after the June deaths and promptly promised new equipment and infrastructure. Apart from a state-of-the-art 40-bed Sick Neonatal Care Unit that is ready to function from November, nothing has materialised.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on October 31 sought details about the infant deaths from the state government. "It is a matter of grave concern that so many infants died," NCPCR member Luv Verma said. Quizzed about the tragedies, Banerjee, who is also the health minister, brusquely ticked off journalists, saying, "Do not irritate me."

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