Amid Congress raising the issue of deaths of infants in Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College Hospital (MGMMCH) in Jamshedpur, the District Judge on Tuesday visited the premises to carry out an inspection, taking suo motu cognisance on the issue. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the state government seeking its report within six weeks on the deaths of infants. A report by a news agency, which is being corroborated by the Hospital authorities, said that 52 infants have died in 30 days in July.
The Congress had lodged a police complaint with Sakchi police station in Jamshedpur on Monday naming Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das, State Health Minister Ram Chandra Chandravanshi, the district civil surgeon Dr K C Munda, MGMMCH principal Dr A C Akhouri and Hospital Superintendent Bhartendu Bhushan alleging that costly equipment in the hospital lay unused, while children were dying.
“Through the complaint, we have initiated a three-day protest sit-in at Sakchi roundabout in which our senior leaders will also participate. If there is no action, then we would approach the Jharkhand High Court through a PIL. The government is trying to evade its responsibility by citing reasons of children being critical and under-weight,” said state Congress spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan Prasad.
Jharkhand State Human Rights Conference, an NGO, which has been working on the issue and has come out with a report of 166 children in the last four months, on Tuesday handed a letter to the District Judge Manoj Kumar, when he arrived for inspection. “We intended to file a PIL, but since the District Judge came here, we presented our letter to him,” said Manoj Mishra, president of the JHRC.
Mishra added that the explanation of the hospital authorities that children died allegedly due to malnutrition raised questions about the state of implementation of various government programmes like Janani Suraksha Yojana. “The government is spending huge amounts in the name of ensuring healthy mothers and infants in the villages. Still, children arriving at the hospital are under-weight. This raises questions as to what are the health-related staff on ground doing?”
On Monday, in a meeting State health minister Ram Chandra Chandravanshi had sought a detailed explanation about the deaths.
MGMMCH superintendent Bhushan told The Indian Express over phone: “The report mentions that 52 children died in 30 days. This is our data. But, during the same period, more than 100 were admitted and many were saved. Among those who died were children with low weight, in the range of 300 gm, 700 gm, 900 gm etc, when they should have ideally been 2.5 kg at least. Also, quite a few of them were premature babies. That is their condition when they arrive here. We don’t know whether the delivery-related protocols were followed by the staff at the lower centres, or if the babies were delivered at home.”
Bhushan added that there was resource crunch for the hospital and they were trying to do their best in the situation.