BARELY two weeks after the state government promised improved infrastructure for Nashik civil hospital following the death of 186 infants in the district, the absence of a ventilator claimed the life of one more tribal child brought to the hospital. The hospital administration claims it will install nine warmers (incubators) in the next three days in its Sick Newborn Care Unit. Interestingly, all these warmers have been donated by companies under corporate social responsibility projects. The hospital is yet to get a warmer funded by the government.
Maharashtra Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant, who visited the hospital on September 9, had promised immediate installation of 5 to 6 additional incubators and an additional half-a-dozen in the near future to augment infrastructure of the department.
On Monday, Hemlata Jagdish Kahandole, a 23-year-old handicapped woman from the tribal-dominated Peth Taluka, gave birth to a premature baby who weighed less than one kg. The family decided to move the mother and child to Nashik District Civil Hospital, located 55 km away.
On Tuesday, the doctors at the civil hospital recommended that the baby needed to be put on a ventilator, but none was available at the hospital.
The doctors then referred the child to a medical college that has a ventilator, but the child was turned away because of lack of space. The family was then forced to take the child to a private hospital but the baby died before admission.
The civil hospital administration acknowledged that while the doctors did all that they could to save the child, the lack of resources led to the death.
“Our doctors tried their best. However, due to lack of infrastructure, we did face some problems. However, our doctors arranged for the child to be treated at a private hospital which had the requisite equipment, but unfortunately the child died,” Nashik District Civil Surgeon Dr Suresh Jagdale said.
Jagdale said that within the next three days the hospital would get nine additional warmers (incubators). The hospital presently has 18 incubators. For the average load of patients that the Sick Newborn Care Unit receives, the hospital requires close to 44 incubators.
The Nashik civil hospital caters to 61 lakh residents spread over 1,922 villages and 25 towns. The district has a majority tribal population and the number of malnourished children born in the district is substantially higher than the state average.
Under the present norms, only hospitals attached to government medical colleges are provided funding for a ventilator. There is no government medical college in Nashik.
When asked about whether the hospital had received any infrastructure from the state government after the 187 deaths, Jagdale said that the process was still underway.
“We have not received any incubators from the government so far as the process of procurement takes some time. However, all the ancillary equipment required to ensure effective functioning of the warmers that have been donated by the company has been done by government funding,” Jagdale said.
On the question of ventilators, Jagdale said that as of now, there was no directive to set up ventilators.
Since April 2017, Nashik civil hospital’s SCNU, in a period of five months, had witnessed 187 deaths compared to 287 in the 12-month period of 2016-17. A majority of these deaths are of children who have been brought in critical condition from rural areas or private or municipal hospitals.
The health of residents of this district is served by 106 primary health care centres, 592 sub-centres, 26 rural hospitals and one civil hospital.
The deteriorating condition of primary health care centres in the region has meant that in case of extreme emergency, poor residents are reliant only on the Nashik civil hospital.