Three newborns have been reported to have died during the last week in the SNR District Hospital in Kolar city of Karnataka. India Today has reported that as many as 35 newborn children have died in the hospital between June 1 and August 22 this year. The health department, however, denied allegations of negligence by doctors and has attributed the death of babies to “congenital anomalies and low birth weight” instead.
The opposition has criticized the government severely for the rising number of infant deaths and has sought the resignation of chief minister Siddaramaiah. State BJP president and former chief minister, BS Yeddyurappa, during a press conference sought a response from the chief minister and congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi. Incidentally, the SNR Hospital lies in the constituency of state health minister, KR Ramesh Kumar.
The health department has admitted that 90 infant deaths have been recorded in the hospital since January. Karnataka chief minister had sought a detailed report from the health department in the matter. In the report that the health department has submitted to the chief minister, it has said that the increase in the number of deaths is proportionate with the increase in the number of deliveries carried out in the hospital this year.
An excerpt of the report reads,
We have sufficient staff in the hospital. Four paediatricians are working in the hospital and there is no dearth of drugs and equipment. Children born with congenital anomaly and low birth weight carry the risk of mortality.
Several organizations have carried out protests against the alleged apathy of the government. Chiefs of panels working for human rights and child rights visited the hospital to scrutinize the situation. Karnataka state human rights commission chairperson, Meera C. Saxena, visited the hospital’s Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) and carried out an inspection of the facilities available and said that the commission wants to avoid a repetition of Gorakhpur tragedy.
Meera C. Saxena also said that the commission has sought detailed case histories of the mothers whose newborn children have died in the hospital. During her visit, the issue of power supply at the SNR Hospital came to light. The commission authorities had to inspect the hospital in the dark since the electricity generator had been used since the morning because of a long power cut. The commission chief has directed the hospital officials to arrange a back-up generator.