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Inquiry Ordered in Deaths of 111 Infants in Adani-run Hospital

The hospital set up by the government was handed over to Adani group by then CM Narendra Modi in 2009.
GK Hospital

The Gujarat government has ordered an inquiry into the death of 111 infants in the GK General Hospital in Bhuj over the course of five months in 2018. The hospital is run by the Adani group.  According to the data shared by the hospital superintendent GS Rao, a total of 777 infants had been admitted in the span of five months, out of which, 111 have died. This means: based on the data of just five months, the infant mortality rate is already 14 per cent. In 2015, the infant mortality rate was 19 per cent, 18 per cent in 2016 and 21 per cent in 2017. The authorities maintained that the mortality rate would remain this low until the end of this year.

The authorities stated that many patients admitted to the hospital are referred cases and on their way to the hospital, they develop further complications, which results in a higher mortality rate at the hospital. Malnutrition, which arises in babies when their mothers don’t get proper food at the time of pregnancy, along with pre-mature birth, were cited as reasons for the deaths by the hospital authorities.

Interestingly, the GK hospital has been in the midst of controversies ever since it was handed over to the corporate house. Set up after the Bhuj earthquake, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had intended it to be a public hospital, with state of the art facility. In fact, a sum of 100 crore rupees from the prime minister’s relief fund had been spent on the building of the hospital. Initially, the state government had conveyed to the PMO, which had all along been overseeing its construction, as well as to the then Union Health Minister Sushma Swaraj, that the newly-constructed 300-bed super speciality hospital should be managed by the union health ministry as the annual maintenance cost of ₹15 crore would be beyond its budget. However, over the course of time, the Narendra Modi-led government in Gujarat managed to hand over the hospital to the Adani group. In 2009, the hospital was let out on lease for 99 years to the corporate giant. Along with the hospital, a medical institute was also set up. This was a huge favour that the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi did to the Adanis, who allegedly to have close relations with Modi.

A PIL was filed by Adam Chaki, claiming that the hospital was working against the interest of poor people of the region and the state government, while letting out the hospital on lease had bypassed some mandatory procedures. The Gujarat High court passed a judgment in 2012, dismissing the PIL, while laying out stringent conditions on its functioning. The hospital was supposed to add 450 beds, offer 10 per cent reservation in the college seats and ensure free treatment of poor patients and government employees. Chaki filed another PIL, stating that the hospital was not providing proper medical facilities, in contempt of the court’s 2012 judgment. However this case is still stuck in the mire of litigations.

As the Modi government completes its fourth year, attempts to privatise healthcare have become more and more aggressive. In fact, not only healthcare, but all institutions that were earlier in the hands of the public sector are being handed over to corporations, for boosting private profits. The result is that people’s suffering increases, as is shown by the GK Hospital case.

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