THE STATE-RUN Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur is again in the news for the wrong reasons. In the first five days of this month, 70 children have died at the hospital. Most cases are allegedly related to premature birth, low birth weight and septicemia. Also, delay in reaching the hospital has compounded the problem, the hospital maintained.
The hospital had come into the limelight in August when 60 children had died within five days, allegedly due to lack of liquid oxygen. The government, however, had maintained that the deaths were the result of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and other medical reasons.
Dr D K Srivastava, head of the hospital’s community medicine department, said that among the 70 dead, the maximum, 18, were reported on November 3. These included eight deaths in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) and 10 in paediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Among these, only one died of AES. As many as 257 children were being treated in the paediatric wards on November 3.
While 13 deaths were reported on November 1 — seven NICU and six PICU — 12 deaths were reported on November 2 — seven NICU and five PICU. Out of these, three died due to AES. On November 4, 15 deaths were reported — 10 in NICU and five in PICU. One died of AES. On November 5, till midnight, 12 deaths were reported — four in NICU and eight in PICU, he added.
“Various reasons, including premature birth, infection and septicemia among others are responsible for the deaths… then, most patients are admitted in a critical condition from far-off districts,” Srivastava maintained.
He added: “We are catering to a population of around 5 crore in eastern UP, western Bihar and Nepal. Premature babies first go to local doctors and then come to us in a critical condition. Despite our best efforts, at least one-third of the children die.”
“A dedicated AES and ventilator facility was started here about a decade ago… there is no such facility within a 100-km radius… Thus, on an average, 300 patients occupy the beds in the paediatric wards alone every day,” said Srivastava, adding that the number of deaths due to AES has reduced with the onset of winters.
When contacted, Dr P K Singh, principal of the medical college, said: “There was a sudden spurt in the number of cases on two days… I have asked the paediatric department head to compile a detailed report. But different medical reasons appear to be behind the deaths, especially premature births in case of NICU deaths.”
Sources said that in October, 483 deaths had been reported in the paediatric department, which included 295 deaths in NICU and 162 in PICU.