state news

Gorakhpur hospital tragedy: Three more children die, toll rises to 63 in five days

Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh and Minister for Technical and Medical Education Ashutosh Tandon will meet Chief Minister Adityanath.

Three more children died at Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district on Saturday, ANI reported. With this, 63 children have died at the hospital since August 7 after an alleged oxygen supply failure in the children’s ward.

State Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh and Minister for Technical and Medical Education Ashutosh Tandon are scheduled to meet Chief Minister Adityanath. Gorakhpur also happens to be Adityanath’s Lok Sabha constituency. The two ministers will also visit the hospital later in the day. “Proper investigation will be done and quick action will be taken,” Health Minister Singh told ANI.

Uttar Pradesh’s Medical Education Minister Ashutosh Tondon had said that no deaths were caused due to lack of oxygen supply. He had attributed the deaths to encephalitis, a condition which causes high fever and brain inflammation.

A statement released by the hospital on Friday evening said most of the deaths happened in the neo natal ICU for newborns. Very few deaths were on account of acute encephalitis syndrome. Here is the break-up of the 60 deaths since August 7 under categories NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), AES (acute encephalitis syndrome) and non-AES:

August 7: 9 (4 NICU, 2 AES, 3 non-AES)

August 8: 12 (7 NICU, 3 AES, 2 non-AES)

August 9: 9 (6 NICU, 2 AES, 1 non-AES)

August 10: 23 (14 NICU, 3 AES, 6 non-AES)

August 11: 7 (3 NICU, 2 AES, 2 non-AES)

The figures reveal that before the alleged disruption of oxygen supply to the children’s department, the number of deaths were lower. However, On August 10, it shot up to 23.

The oxygen supply was allegedly stopped after the hospital failed to clear the suppliers’ bill of Rs 67 lakh. “The supply of liquid oxygen was disrupted on Thursday due to pending payments. We had requested the suppliers not to disrupt supply,” District Magistrate Rajeev Rautela had told the Hindustan Times.

Opposition blames state government

Congress President Sonia Gandhi said she was “pained beyond words” by the tragedy. She said the children were victims of “gross negligence and incorrigible misconduct on part of the authorities”. Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi also blamed the state government for the tragedy. “Deeply pained. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. BJP govt is responsible and should punish the negligent, who caused this tragedy,” he said.

Both Congress and Samajwadi Party demanded the resignation of the state health minister, reported PTI. But Health Minister Singh urged the Opposition parties not to politicise the deaths.

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