As many as 151 infants died in different hospitals here between April and July, reflecting a grim infant and child health care situation in Odisha which recently reported an alarming rate of deaths of newborns in Cuttack and Kandhamal. The official statistics show the abysmal state of child health care in Kendrapara, which is the home district of state Health Minister Atanu Sabysachi Nayak, where several posts of paediatricians were lying vacant.
“While 22 neo-natal death cases of babies less than 28-days old were reported, 34 infant deaths were registered during April-July period. During the said period, 95 cases of babies dying during child-birth were recorded. All these cases were registered in government-run health institutions,” a district health official said. “What has made matters worse is the vacancies of paediatricians posts in the government-run hospitals,” the senior official said.
Statistics of past four months show an average of nearly 38 newborns dying every month. Altogether 5,615 institutional deliveries were conducted during the period, the official said adding 128 infants were born at home since past four months. Poor health infrastructure of child and maternity care are principally attributed to rise in cases of neo-natal and infants deaths, the official said.
The district accounts for 54 primary health centres, seven community health centres and 204 sub-centres while the district headquarters hospital at Kendrapara is the premier referral hospital here. As many as 11 posts of paediatric specialists have fallen vacant across the district while there are instances of health centre running without doctors. Pharmacists and paramedics run the heath service network in most places, the official added.
Chief District Medical Officer, Kendrapara, Binayak Prusty said the deaths were attributed to low birth weight, lack of pre- and post-natal care, premature delivery and absence of timely medical care during institutional deliveries. “There are 130 sanctioned posts of doctors. However, as many as 54 posts are lying vacant. Vacant posts include eleven paediatric specialist posts. We have written to the government for deployment of more doctors. Hopefully, our request will be addressed,” the CDMO said.
“The ground realities are grim. Governmental health service has abysmally failed to cater to the needs of sick people spread over nine blocks of the district,” said BJP’s Kendrapara district wing president Duryadhan Sahu. “Given the state of affairs, it is apparent that health is no longer on the priority list of state government. Poor people are left to fend for themselves as health centres and dispensaries are left unmanned. It’s the small children and pregnant women who are suffering the most,” said Debendra Sharma, Kendrapara district wing chief of Congress.
As many as 154 infants died in different hospitals in the tribal-dominated Kandhamal district between April and July while over 60 newborns were reported dead within two weeks in Cuttack.