The death of 10 infants in the state government’s JK Lone Hospital in Kota on December 23 and 24 has led to a political slugfest between the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The panel, constituted by the state government to look into the matter came out with the report on Tuesday found that “the infants died due to medical reasons”.
As per the hospital records, 954 children died at the hospital this year as compared to 1,005 in 2018 and 1,198 in 2014. In November 2019, 101 kids had died while 91 died in December.
On Tuesday evening, Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan sought a report from chief minister Ashok Gehlot on the deaths.
In several wards, the window and main doors are broken, the wards stink and more than one child is kept on one bed due to crowding, two persons, who were part of the inquiry panel constituted by the state government after the deaths of infants were reported, said. A hospital official requesting anonymity admitted of infrastructure constraints but claimed that the deaths of infants happened due to “medical reasons”.
The state Superintendent Dr Suresh Chand Dulera said, “The panel (appointed by the Rajasthan government) found that the infants died due to medical reasons, frequent change of oxygen cylinders in neonatal ICU probably causing infection and many brought to the hospital in jeep and vans in the extreme cold conditions leading to deterioration in their health conditions.”
“We have received the report and will take action against the guilty,” said health minister Raghu Sharma, who received flak from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party for not visiting the hospital yet.
The hospital records accessed by HT confirmed the neglect. Out of 500 medical devices, only 200 were functional; there were only 20 nurses against the sanctioned posts of 42 in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU); in pediatric ICU there are only eight nurses against the requirement of 21. In the NICU, of the 71 warmers, only 24 are functional. The hospital has 20 ventilators but only six are working, the hospital records showed.
State health minister Raghu Sharma said the government will soon provide additional funds to improve facilities at the hospital.
The Congress, however, played down the deaths, saying the deaths in 2019 in the hospital were less than in 2018. Gehlot said infants dying this year were lowest in the last six years. He said out of the 10 infants, who died, six were very sick and had been referred from other hospitals.
After the deaths, Lok Sabha Speaker and Kota MP, Om Birla had tweeted expressing concern over the deaths in the hospital. Birla and other BJP leaders including party’s state president Satish Poonia had visited the hospital and slammed the management for deaths.