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Kota infant deaths: Toll rises to 107, central govt team visits J K Lon hospital

Following the rise in the death toll, a Central government team arrived at the hospital Saturday to conduct and inspection. Lok Sabha Speaker and MP from Kota, Om Birla, Also met the family members of one of the deceased infants.

By: Express Web Desk | Kota, New Delhi |
Updated: January 4, 2020 3:42:59 pm
Kota infant deaths: Death toll rises to 107, Central govt team visits J K Lon hospital Outside the J K Lon government hospital, Kota. (Express photo: Deep Mukherjee)

The death toll of infants at the J K Lon government hospital in Rajasthan’s Kota rose to 107 Saturday, of which 100 had died in December, news agency ANI reported. And of those 100, 10 had died within 48 hours — between December 23 and 24.

A Central government team arrived at the hospital earlier today to conduct an inspection. Lok Sabha Speaker and MP from Kota, Om Birla, also met the family members of one of the deceased infants.

“I met some families of the infants who passed away in JK Lon hospital. We are standing with these families in this hour of grief. I have written twice to Rajasthan CM, suggesting steps to improve medical facilities,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

On Friday, Health Minister Raghu Sharma, who visited the hospital, told The Indian Express that there was no clinical negligence behind the deaths, “but there have been cases of administrative negligence for which action will be taken against those responsible”.

He also blamed the previous BJP government for not developing the infrastructure of the hospital. “They were there in power for five years. The financial approval of 60 beds, which the previous Congress government had given in 2012, where did that go? Had there been 60 beds, our bed strength would have been 102 and there wouldn’t have been a need to put two children on one bed,” said Sharma.

Sharma added that by January 15, a centralised oxygen system will be put in place and the equipment will be updated.

Prior to the visit of the ministers, the hospital staff expedited repair work and maintenance which had been due for months. A carpet had also been rolled out in front of the hospital entrance but was later removed after it was filmed.

Meanwhile, the opposition BJP slammed the Congress government in the state for failing to tackle the situation.

The J K Lon Hospital is the biggest such facility for children in the Kota division with hundreds of patients coming every day from adjacent districts such as Baran, Bundi and Jhalawar — even from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.

According to the hospital’s Department of Paediatrics, since January 2019, at least 60 children have died every month. In some months, the number has been close to 100 — August (87), September (90), October (91), November (101) and December (100). The infants were admitted in the neonatal intensive care unit and paediatric intensive care unit. No post-mortems were conducted as the deaths were not reportedly suspicious.

The government’s defence is that this isn’t an unusual spike. That the 963 child deaths in 2019 at J K Lon government hospital are less than in the preceding years — 1,198 (2014), 1,260 (2015), 1,193 (2016), 1,027 (2017) and 1,005 (2018), an average of close to 100 deaths a month.

Meanwhile Congress leader Sachin Pilot told ANI that the response of Congress government in the state could have been more ‘compassionate and sensitive’. “I think our response to this could have been more compassionate and sensitive. After being in power for 13 months I think it serves no purpose to blame the previous Govt’s misdeeds. Accountability should be fixed,” Pilot was quoted as saying.

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