Updated: January 5, 2020 8:38:20 pm
At a time when BJP has been demanding the resignation of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot over the deaths of more than 100 infants at a government hospital in Kota, it has emerged that 111 infants died in civil hospital in Rajkot and 88 in Ahmedabad civil in the month of December.
Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel stated that the deaths were on the higher side but termed it ‘cyclical phenomenon’ and claimed that the state government had managed to reduce the infant mortality rate (IMR) to below 25 from 30, as compared to the data three years ago.
A vernacular daily published a report Sunday claiming 134 infants had died in Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Hospital in Rajkot and 85 in Ahmedabad civil hospital. Reacting to the news report, Patel said official records showed 111 infants died in the Rajkot hospital and 88 in the Ahmedabad hospital during the month of December. He further said that 87 and 71 infants died in the Rajkot hospital during the month of October and November respectively. The same figures for Ahmedabad hospital were 91 and 74 respectively. Thus, 269 infants died in the Rajkot hospital over the last three months and 253 in the Ahmedabad hospital.
The deputy CM said that the IMR was a sensitive issue but suggested that it was a cyclical phenomenon. “Today, there was a very sensitive news of deaths of infants. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani called me in the morning and subsequently I have been in touch with officers of health department despite it being Sunday… The records suggest that as compared to October and November, deaths have been more during 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. They said that natural causes of infant deaths also increase during winter and consequently the IMR also goes up,” Patel said while addressing a press conference in Ahmedabad.
Patel said that low birth-weight and undernourishment were the main causes of death. Quoting central government data, Patel said that IMR in Gujarat was 30 per 1000 live births in 2017.
The deputy CM added that infants being referred from private hospitals to the state government-run hospitals was also one of the reasons for the higher number of deaths in the latter.
Refuting charges of any lapse on the part of the hospital, Medical Superintendent of Ahmedabad Civil hospital Dr GH Rathod said, “There is no lapse on the part of the hospital. On the contrary, facilities have increased over recent years.”
“The numbers go slightly up in winters but not unusually high. Also, when we talk about these deaths during similar time of the year in 2017 and 2018 it was around 150 which comes out to be nearly 35 per cent. But with additional facilities added at the hospital, this has been brought down to 18-20 per cent in 2019,” Dr Rathod added.
Dr Manish Mehta, medical superintendent of PDU Hospital said: “Multiple neural defects, low birth weight and sepsis are the main reasons of infants deaths. Congregational defects can be detected during pregnancy and corrective measures can be taken. But once a child is born with such defects, its chance of survival are thin. Moreover, morbidity remains as high as 50 per cent among outborn admissions, infants who were delivered elsewhere but who are brought to civil hospital for treatment,” Dr Mehta said, adding the overall death rate has fallen by one per cent in 2019 over the preceding year.
After the revelation, Congress leaders in the state sought to corner the BJP government in Gujarat. “The BJP leadership at the national level had been calling for resignation of Rajasthan Chief Minister despite the number of deaths there (in Kota hospital) being lower than in Rajkot. I want to ask them what do they propose to do now with the Chief Minister of Gujarat. We do not want to play politics. We are concerned and that is why we are raising the issue,” Shaktisinh Gohil, national spokesperson of Congress and a senior leader of the party in Gujarat said.
Reacting to these reports, Shaktisinh Gohil, national spokesperson for Congress and party in-charge of Bihar in a statement released by him said,”It is a news of great concern that 134 children have died in Rajkot in December and 253 of them have died in Ahmedabad’s Civil Hospital in the past three months. Human life is invaluable and despite which party is in power, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure safety of human lives. After news broke out of death of children in Kota of Rajasthan, their CM has sprung into action with promptness and he has been monitoring the situation in the Kota city hospital.”
Further, the statement mentioned, “Our government has not issued an irresponsible statement such as ‘kids die in BJP ruled states as well or kids have been dying even during past government as well’. The health minister and deputy chief minister of Rajasthan have been camped in the Kota Hospital and the government including CM have spoken to media as well. Unlike them, the Gujarat CM have not answered the questions of media and have not shown any sensitivity despite the fact that 134 children have died in a month in his constituency. In Gujarat, 1, 42, 142 children are malnourised and despite the state government accepting this in the assembly, they have not worked towards it.”
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