BeyondHeadlines News Desk
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today visited the BC Roy Children’s Hospital in Kolkata, where 21 babies had died in a span of 48 hours, triggering a wave of protests by angry family members who had lost their children.
The government-run hospital had declared the children were admitted in critical condition. The state’s Health Secretary MN Roy has said that last June, close to 280 children were admitted and 87 died. This year, 395 children were admitted and 86 died.
Ironically, the hospital says it cannot be accused of negligence despite the fact that 21 babies have died there in the last two days.
The specialty children’s hospital may be trying to explain that there has been no aberration, but parents refuse to accept that. Yesterday, after a nine-month-old baby died, angry relatives attacked the hospital. As news spread that by then, 17 children had died in 36 hours, a large crowd blocked the road to the hospital. Today, a young mother, Pompa Sarkar, was seen leaving the hospital with her baby girl. She said that after the tales of horror she has heard, she won’t risk letting this hospital treat her child.
Sumitra Mondal was admitted three days ago. Yesterday, doctors asked for a CT scan, a machine the hospital doesn’t have. So her father had to take her elsewhere to get it done, not just an issue of logistics but of further stressing a child in fragile shape.
“She’s been in hospital for many days. The doctors said nothing, No medicines were given. Now they want a CT scan,” says her father, Sukumar.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked for more details. A statement issued this evening said, “Paediatric care is one of the cardinal requirements of infant health and any negligence/dereliction of duty by public servants/doctors is detrimental to the Right to Health of the concerned. The allegations, if true, amount to serious violation of human rights.”
The chief minister, who also heads the Health Ministry of the state, had ordered an inquiry into whether the staff at the hospital was to blame for the recent deaths.
The Superintendent of the B C Roy Hospital, D Pal, had told PTI the babies who had died were either pre-mature or suffering from septicemia or low-birth weight problems. The medical institute is considered to be the largest referral paediatric hospital in the eastern region.
Earlier in September 2004, there were protests in the same hospital when 14 children died of broncho-pneumonia and gastro-enteritis, four of them because there were no oxygen cylinders.