India's Dying Babies
Neonatal deaths have become a serious issue with many babies dyeing from past 6 months. Is it because our government hospitals are ill-equipped and overburdened?
A survey states that India accounts for 30 percent of neonatal deaths out of 3.9 million worldwide.
BC Roy Post-Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences yet again on Wednesday was haunted by crib deaths. 11 babies reportedly died at the hospital in the space of 40 hours, including four on Wednesday morning. Authorities claimed that the infants had been brought in a critical state and couldn't have been saved, but parents of the infants alleged negligence on the part of the hospital. More than twenty infants had died at the hospital in three days last June.
Between July 8 and 10 - 24 infants died in the space of 72 hours in two government hospitals of Murshidabad in West Bengal. Ten days earlier, 18 newborns perished in Kolkata's B C Roy Hospital, and in January, 21 babies died in yet another government hospital in Kolkata. A string of incubator deaths, too, has been reported from hospitals across the country - in Nagpur, Patiala, Ahmedabad and other towns over the last few years.
Another incident of the neonatal deaths was when 5 newborn babies died under mysterious circumstances in the infants' ward of a hospital in Vijaywada, triggering protest by parents who alleged that their children died due to faulty incubators. Doctors at the old government general hospital claimed that three of the babies had died a natural death. Nine newborn babies are currently in incubators and the condition of one of them is said to be critical.
Dr Satish Saluja, senior consultant, neonatology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, believes public sector healthcare facilities are "seriously overstretched with paucity of trained medical staff and inadequate availability of beds." Medical facilities like incubators are not of "optimal standards" and childcare facilities are neither "well organised nor universally available" as quoted by Times of India.
atna-based paediatrician Dr Akhilanand Thakur says that even "better-known" government hospitals in Bihar are not well-equipped to deal with emergency cases involving newborns. This, in turn, has a different spiral. With round-the-clock medical facilities a distant dream in rural areas, many children are born at home. It is no surprise then that the single largest contributor to neo-natal deaths is the high numbers of births in home settings, under the supervision of untrained attendants. "It's probably easier and cheaper to have another child than to save the one who needs medical intervention," Thakur says with a touch of irony.
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