Updated: November 11, 2017 8:56:03 am
After reports that 70 children died at Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur in the first five days of this month, rekindling the August horror, the government is now planning steps to strengthen the medical and health services at the periphery.
In past one-and-a-half month, the Yogi Adityanath-led government has taken several initiatives to reduce the death rate at the hospital, which includes increasing medical staff as well as the number of beds in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit. But, the high rate of deaths continues to take place at the hospital.
Experts said the actual problem was not with the hospital but with the medical and health services at the grass-root level. However, sources informed that shortage of specialised doctors i.e. paediatricians was the biggest hurdle.
“We have taken various steps, which includes adding 21 additional medical staff to the pediatric department, including 10 resident doctors, 10 medical officers and one professor. We have also added two Neo-Natal Intensive Care Units at the hospital,” said PK Singh, Principal of BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur.
However, the hospital administration maintained the number of deaths were high because they catered to a larger population and most of the patients reached them in critical condition. “One has to consider that we cater to about 5 crore people in eastern UP, adjoining Bihar and Nepal. There is no such other facility for children in the near vicinity. While Encephalitis Treatment Centres (ETC) centers have been formed at the grass-root level but they do not have doctors,” one official said.
Sources said in the 22 Encephalitis Treatment Centres, there are just four pediatricians posted. Without pediatricians, these specialised units have not much use. “We are working on the plan to improve the facilities at the periphery. The shortage of specialised doctors remains our main problem because we can have all the facilities but it would not be of much use without pediatricians,” said Ravindra Kumar, Chief Medical Officer of Gorakhpur.
He said the government planned to develop two mini-Pediatric Intensive care units at the CHC or PHC level to reduce patient inflow at BRD Medical College. However, in this scenario the appointment of atleast three pediatricians on an eight-hour duty at each of these centre will be the biggest challenge for the government.
While on an average there are 300 patients in the pediatric department, about 50-70 new patients are admitted in NICU and PICU of the hospital each day. The death rate is higher in NICU. Experts reasoned there were various reasons for these deaths and most common are low birth rate, septicemia, infection etc. Moreover, people come to the hospital after travelling over 30-40 km with their newly born child, who need immediate critical care.
In the month of October, 1,630 new admissions took place in the PICU and NICU of the hospital, out of which 457 deaths were reported. In NICU, 483 new admissions took place and 295 children died. Out of the 1147 patients at PICU, 162 succumbed to their diseases.
“The only solution is more critical care units at the grass-root level with the specialised staff. Otherwise, we would keep on increasing the facilities but it would not affect the death rate much with critical patients not getting required treatment at the periphery,” Kumar said.
As the number of deaths of children at BRD continue, experts hope that “mini-PICU” idea of the government sees the light of the day and is able to reduce the pressure on the hospital.
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