Even as the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan has started the 'Nirogi Rajasthan' programme, marking completion of one year in government, the death toll of infants in JK Lon Hospital in Kota, has mounted to 100 in nearly a month.
After the infant deaths made news case, the state government constituted an inquiry committee, consisted of Dr. Amarjeet Mehta, Additional Principal of Sawai Mansingh Hospital, Jaipur, and Pediatrician Dr. Rambabu Sharma. This committee submitted its report to the government after investigation on Monday December 30. In this report, hospital administration and doctors have been given a virtual clean chit in this matter.
What is in the Inquiry Report?
The committee in its investigation has not found any deficiency in the treatment of children. The committee says that the cause of death of 10 children in two days was not due to lack of treatment, but cold. Five out of the 10 dead children were less than a month old and during the severe cold, their parents brought them in a jeep, the report noted, adding that these children had throat infection due to cold. There were also situations such as stopping of breath, which led to death, said the report, reiterating that there was no lack of proper treatment by the doctors or any negligence.
However, the committee also noted that oxygen is usually provided in the ICU through cylinders, while oxygen must be delivered through pipelines. Carrying the cylinder back and forth increases the risk of infection. committee also noted that over 70 children were being treated in 53 beds of the ICU in JK Lon Hospital, which could cause infection.
What is the Whole Issue?
JK Lon Maternal and Child Hospital and New Medical College Hospital in Kota, Rajasthan, is a government-run hospital, which claims to have specialty in treating children. Between December 23 and 24, 2019, as many as 10 children died in this hospital. Five of these were newborns, while the rest were less than two years old.
The case made news when on December 27, Kota MP and Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla, tweeted tagging the Rajasthan government and sought serious action in the matter. Birla himself visited the hospital on Sunday, December 29, and took stock of the situation. During this time, he inquired about the lack of health equipment in the hospital and also gave necessary instructions about it.
On December 27, Chief Minister Gehlot sent Health Secretary Vaibhav Galeria to take stock of the situation, who found several flaws in the hospital during the initial investigation. The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital was found deficient in oxygen, wards were not clean and necessary medical equipment was also not available.
Following this, the Health Secretary formed an inquiry panel consisting of three members, who were asked to submit an investigation report within 48 hours, and assured action against those responsible.
However, the hospital administration maintains that there was no deficiency in the treatment of the children. The doctors were present throughout. JK Lon Hospital Superintendent HL Meena told the media also reiterated that there was no lacuna on the part of the hospital in the death of any child.
It may be recalled that the series of deaths of children have been going on in the hospital since a month. But when 10 children died together, the CM of Rajasthan swung into action and gave a statement, which was termed as “insensitive” by the social media and the Opposition. Gehlot said, 'This year there have been the lowest number of deaths compared with the last 6 years. Thought the death of a child is unfortunate, but in the past years, there have been 1,300-1,500 deaths every year. This year, the figure is 900. Every day some deaths occur in every hospital in the country. There is nothing new in this.”
Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje lashed out at the state government and alleged: "Children are dying, there is nothing new in this." The head of the state was very hurt to hear this statement. This statement is like rubbing salt on the wounds of those mothers who have lost their children in JK Lon Hospital due to government negligence. '
It is worth noting that children referred to JK Lon Hospital are referred from the surrounding districts. But the hospital’s record does not seem good in terms of treating children. If we look at the figures for the last one month, a total of 100 children have died, which is frightening. If you look at the figure of one year, the number has crossed 900.
The state's opposition party, BJP, has been constantly attacking the Gehlot government for this. Party president Satish Poonia said: “Even after these deaths, the attitude of the government is insensitive, inhuman. We have formed a committee consisting of two former ministers, Rajendra Rathore and Kalicharan Saraf, to get to the bottom of the matter.”
However, the truth is that this painful picture of the death of children in this hospital is not just after the Congress came to power. This trend has been going on since 2014, every year around 1,000 children die in this hospital during treatment.
Dr. Amrit Lal Bairwa, head of the department concerned at the hospital, told the media, "There are not enough doctors in the hospital. Amidst all this, the hospital staff is taking proper care of patients referred for treatment. Our efforts have reduced such deaths. There is a lot of pressure on hospitals after free screening and medication planning, because treatment in private hospitals is very expensive. "
Citing records in this regard, Dr Bairava said that the number of patients being referred to the hospital is increasing every year but the number of such deaths is decreasing in proportion. According to this, '”n the year 2014, a total of 15, 719 patients were admitted, out of which 1,198 died, 17,569 were admitted in 2015, while 1,260 died. In 2016, as many as, 17.892 were admitted and 1,193 died. In 2017, a total of 17,216 patients were admitted and 1,027 died, against 16,436 admitted in 2018, and 1,005 deaths. This year the number is 940.”
Meanwhile, the National Child Rights Protection Commission i.e. (NCPCR) has issued a notice to the state government. It has asked the state government to reply in this matter in three days. Apart from this, it has summoned Kota CMO BS Tanwar to its office on January 3 to respond in the.
Ajay Patni, who works on public health facilities in the state, told Newsclick, 'To understand this problem one has to first understand its root. The health services infrastructure at the primary level is weak here. People do not go to hospitals in far-flung areas, many deaths occur at home. However, in the last few years, people have started reaching the hospital gradually. If such deaths are to be prevented in the state, they will first have to be provided better health services at the ground level, as patients often reach large hospitals late. And there is also a lot of burden on these hospitals.”
Don't Politicise Deaths of Infants: Gehlot
Jaipur: Reacting to criticism over the death of 100 infants at Kota's JK Lon Hospital, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday said the issue should not be politicised and his government was sensitive to it.
His remarks came amid criticism by the BJP and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, who accused the state government of being insensitive.
"The government is sensitive to the death of sick infants in JK Lon Hospital in Kota. There should no politics over the issue. Infant mortality at this hospital is steadily decreasing. We will try to reduce it further. It is our top priority that mothers and children remain in good healthy," Gehlot tweeted in Hindi.