The Andhra Pradesh government on Friday ordered an inquiry into the deaths of 11 newborn babies in a span of 12 days at the Government Hospital in Anantpur. The deaths of four babies on June 9 and 10 caused alarm bells to go off in the administration. Health minister and one of the five deputy CMs of the state A Krishna Srinivas is scheduled to visit the facility on Saturday.
This is not the first time the hospital has come into the spotlight for such high numbers of fatalities. In March, 175 babies were admitted to the hospital in a critical condition, of whom, 30 died. In April, 34 babies of the 217 admitted died and 36 of the 264 admitted babies in May, died.
According to the hospital authorities, the cases admitted into the hospital are ones that are usually critical.
“Anantapur Government hospital is a tertiary hospital and it also has a Special Newborn Care Unit to which, all critical cases from across the district are referred. Some of the most critical cases, like prematurely-born babies, grossly underweight babies, babies born with the umbilical cord stuck around the neck, etc, are referred to this hospital,” Medical Superintendent Dr K Jagganadh said.
“Apart from this, private nursing homes also refer babies born with life-threatening defects. At the Special Newborn Care Unit, we create an atmosphere like a womb for sick babies. Some survive, while others don’t. Although we have 20 beds in the unit, at any given time, we have 25-30 babies in extremely critical condition,” he added.
The government’s line of inquiry is somewhat along the lines of these challenges.
“The government wants to know if the deaths can be prevented by providing better nutrition to pregnant mothers. We also want to find out if PHCs (Primary Health Care centres) are equipped to handle emergencies,” an official of Health Department said.
Doctors at the Special Newborn Care Unit said that of the four babies who died on June 9-10, three were referred by other hospitals while one was born at the facility. Each case had a different cause and complication, according to them.
“These four deaths caused some alarm among parents whose kids are undergoing treatment here, but according to us there is no cause for worry,” a doctor working at the unit said. According to Jagganadh, 28-30 babies are born every day at the unit.