More than 14,000 infants died during their treatment for various ailments at newborn care units across the state during the last two years, the state government told the Assembly on Tuesday. The deaths were reported from Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCU), set up in almost all districts of the state.
The data revealed that out of 71,774 babies who were born in government hospitals and another 40,884 infants who were referred to the SNCUs, 15,013 infants died in the last two years, which is nearly 20 deaths every day.
As per the information with the state health department, in Gujarat, a total of 47 SNCUs are available at all the civil hospitals and medical college hospitals with an estimated 900 bed capacity. Majority of these cases admitted at SNCUs are reported to be severe underweight, have respiratory complications, hypoglycemia among other serious complications.
Among districts, the highest number of infant deaths were reported from Ahmedabad district. During 2018 and 2019, 12,637 infants who were born in the government hospitals in Ahmedabad were admitted to SNCUs. During this same period, another 9,146 infants were referred to the government-run SNCUs in the district. Of these, 4,322 died during treatment at these care units in the district.
When contacted on the actions taken to check the high number of infant deaths, additional director family welfare Dr Nilam Patel said, “In addition to training medical staff, these centres are strengthened by providing additional equipment at required centres. Also, appointment of vacant posts is being done along with monitoring and supervision of all SNCUs.”
In Vadodara district, 6,576 inborn infants were admitted to the SNCU, while another 6,246 infants were referred from outside. Of these, 2,362 deaths were reported.
Similarly, in Rajkot SNCUs, 10,116 infants were admitted in 2018 and 2019 – 4,100 referred from outside and 6,016 born at government-run facilities. Out of these, 1,758 deaths were reported.
The data revealed that in Surat this percentage was nearly 16 per cent. Out of a total of 12,656 (9,667 born at government hospitals and 2,989 referral cases) infants at the SNCUs, 1,986 died during treatment.
Criticising the state government for failing to control infant deaths in the state, Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “The state government is turning a blind eye towards such a large number of infant deaths. It hasn’t taken any remedial action.”
He added,”The state of health services in Gujarat is worsening day by day. There is a 65 per cent vacancies in the super speciality services. Similarly, 35 to 45 per cent doctor posts are lying vacant in major cities and another 60 per cent para medical staff posts are vacant in district and civil hospitals. The state government is only interested in purchasing medicines and tendering out construction contracts to private agencies.”
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