The death of five infants over a 24-hour period at the government-run district hospital in Madhya Pradesh’s Shahdol has raised alarm bells within the state administration, with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan chairing a special meeting on Monday to take stock of the hospital infrastructure where he sought a report on the deaths.
A sixth infant died at the hospital Monday.
The facility also caters to the adjoining districts of Annupur, Dindori and Umaira, along with a few Chhattisgarh villages.
According to the hospital administration, five infants died from prolonged untreated pneumonia on Friday – four males were admitted to the Pediatric ICU but did not survive, while a newborn girl from Umariya, who was referred to the hospital after suffering from birth asphyxia, died after being admitted to the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU).
After chairing a meeting with the health secretary and principal secretary, Chouhan sought a report and assured that those found guilty would be punished.
Dr Rajesh Pandey, the Chief Medical Officer of Shahdol district hospital, attributed the deaths to the infants being brought into the hospital in a critical condition.
However, Sohan Choudhary, who lost his nephew on Friday after he was referred from Umaria, alleged hospital negligence. “My newborn nephew was brought in on November 26 and died two days later, and during the two days we don’t know if any doctor visited him as we were not given any update on his condition, nor were we allowed to visit him,” he said.
However, Dr Pandey said that all concerned measures were taken but the child was brought to the hospital in a critical condition. He also pointed out that the facility has 20 beds in its SNCU and presently has 33 infants admitted, with two infants put on the same bed in a warmer.
Shahdol District Collector Satyendra Singh visited the hospital on Monday evening. He told The Indian Express, “The hospital does face challenges, with high referral cases from neighbouring districts, but there is no shortage of funds. We will be installing three more warmers in the SNCU tomorrow to accommodate infants. But there has been no lapse on the part of the doctors.”