Even as the Gujarat government is trying to explain the death of infants in its hospitals, data from the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital in Asarwa for 2018 and 2019, accessed by The Indian Express, shows a spike in the number of deaths of infants admitted as critical in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), both the years in March. In 2018, 104 of the 198 babies admitted in the hospital’s NICU in March died. While more babies survived among those admitted to NICU in March 2019, the month still saw the highest percentage of deaths of infants in the hospital, with 113 of 316 babies admitted dying.
While reacting to the allegations by the Congress on infant deaths in state government hospitals, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel had on Sunday attributed the death of nearly 200 babies in December 2019 in two government hospitals in Ahmedabad and Rajkot, to “winters”. “The records suggest that as compared to October and November, deaths have been more in the month of December, both in Rajkot and Ahmedabad. When I asked doctors and experts reasons for that, they said that birthrate goes up during winter,” Patel had said. However, his claim appears to be in contradiction when compared to the data.
Going by absolute numbers, July 2019 saw the highest number of infant deaths (125), while March 2019 saw the highest percentage of deaths among the infants admitted in critical care.
A consistent pattern can be seen in the monthly data as provided by the hospital authorities throughout 2019. A majority of critical babies who died were born elsewhere and then referred to the Civil Hospital.
In September 2018, the hospital saw the highest number of infant deaths for the year (214). These deaths made up 45% of those admitted to NICU the same month (471). For the entire year of 2018, Ahmedabad Civil Hospital lost more than 30% of the babies admitted to NICU every month, except for January when 26.12% of babies admitted in NICU died.
The data accessed by The Indian Express shows that while number of children admitted at the Civil Hospital for neonatal intensive critical care increased from 2018 (4,512) to 2019 (4,732), the deaths of those admitted was on the decline with 1,646 babies dying in 2018 compared to 1,127 in 2019, therefore seeing nearly 12 percentage points of decline. On the other hand, the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for the Civil Hospital reported a total of 620 deaths in the entire year of 2019 of the total 2,002 children who were admitted, with March seeing the worst survival rate — 57 of the 130 admitted died.
According to the state government, there are 40 special newborn care units (SNCU) wards in Gujarat, and the Civil Hospital Ahmedabad makes up one such unit. Of the total 33,000 infant deaths reported in 2018 across Gujarat, as shared by Deputy CM Nitin Patel on Tuesday, Ahmedabad Civil Hospital appears to comprise nearly five per cent of the deaths in 2018 and nearly four percent of the total 29,000 infant deaths across the state in 2019.
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