As Yogi Government Faces Heat Over Gorakhpur Tragedy, Calls To Clean Up State’s Rotten Healthcare Rise

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7:31 pm 12 Aug, 2017

Under intense pressure from all sides, the Uttar Pradesh Government on August 12 said that strict action will be taken against those found guilty in the deaths of 30 children at a hospital in Gorakhpur.

Reports on Friday stated how the children, all of them patients of Japanese Encephalitis (JE), died in 48 hours due to a lack of oxygen at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College.

 

Family members of the children who died at the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur. PTI

The incident is also the first major tragedy ever since Yogi Adityanath took oath as Chief Minister of the country’s most populous state. It should be noted that on July 27, the Adityanath government completed 100 days in power.

It has now come to light that 60 JE patients have died since August 7.

By Friday morning, the news was trending across India and covered by every news channel because of the magnitude of the deaths.

While the hospital administration initially claimed that the deaths were not due to the oxygen, reports said that a payment dispute with the oxygen supplier resulted in the cutting off of oxygen supply to the hospital.

It is now clear that the hospital failed to pay the dues to the oxygen supplier amounting to approximately Rs.68 lakhs.

According to reports, the supplier had repeatedly reminded the hospital administration for payment of outstanding bills but nothing was done.

Before leaving for Gorakhpur today, the state health minister Siddharth Nath Singh told the media that the Chief Minister “was not informed by the doctors and officials about shortage of oxygen neither on July 9 nor on August 9”.

The CM had visited the hospital on August 9 for an inspection.

In a shocking revelation, which underlines a flaw in governance, Singh said, “The shortage of oxygen was not highlighted. The medical education minister was also not briefed about it. Appropriate action will be taken keeping these points in mind and a probe will be done.”

“Whoever is found guilty in the tragic and painful incident at BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur will certainly face stringent action,” Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya told PTI in Lucknow on Saturday.


Singh told reporters that the principal of the medical college has been suspended “owing to laxity”.

 

A relative tends to a child at the BRD. PTI

Reports say that Singh admits that the oxygen supply was cut off for two hours, but he also insists that the children didn’t die because of that.

Responding to the tragedy, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that JE has been killing children in the state since 1978. “One of the major reasons is open defecation and unhygienic conditions,” he said.

He added that governments cannot be a problem, but if they are then the governments must go.

But the opposition leaders have been demanding the resignation of the CM and the health minister. Both Congress and Samajwadi Party, which unitedly fought this year’s assembly election in the state, have been calling the tragedy a “murder”. BSP supremo Mayawati, too, joined in the chorus of criticizing the Yogi government.


One of the major reasons why the opposition is criticizing the state government is because Gorakhpur is the CM’s parliamentary constituency.

Critics of the BJP government both in the world of politics and outside, too, are using this tragedy to target the government.

Some have pointed out that the criticism will be particularly harsh because of the party in power.

Too busy criticizing the newly-elected BJP government in the state, many are missing the core problem – deaths due to JE.

It should be noted that deaths due to JE have been happening in the state for decades now.

According to this India Today report, the mosquito-borne disease has claimed the lives of 25,000 in the last 4 decades with 224 deaths in the same hospital in September 2016 – the time when Yadav was the CM.

 

30 children died in 48 hours in BRD. PTI

No state government, whether the SP, the Congress, the BSP or the BJP, in power at any point in time in the state did anything to control this disease.

The spread of JE is high in the Gorakhpur region because of its backwardness and poor healthcare facilities.

According to IT, the BRD Medical College is the only major hospital in a 300 square kilometer area, exactly the size of Maldives – a country in the Indian Ocean Region.

But an RTI in 2011 had revealed the shoddy state of BRD Medical College’s medical facilities.

It is clear that the status of healthcare in most parts of Uttar Pradesh is shoddy at best. If the children did die due to a lack of oxygen, the hospital officials must be held responsible for criminal negligence.

At the same time the Yogi government needs to ensure that no one dies from JE or any preventable disease in such a manner. For this, the government may have to work on a war footing.

But according to Business Standard, the Yogi government has not yet identified or constituted a core team of officials to execute its policies and plans.

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