Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and Union Health Minister JP Nadda visited the Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur district on Sunday, ANI reported, after more than 60 children died in the hospital over the last week. Another child died of encephalitis on Sunday morning. Adityanath is scheduled to talk to the media later in the day.
While reports alleged that the children had died after a shortage of oxygen supply to the hospital, the Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister linked the deaths to encephalitis on Saturday. He had also ordered a detailed inquiry into the case.
Despite all the attention to the incident, the hospital was still ordering liquid oxygen cylinders as of Sunday morning. An operator in the oxygen supply department told Scroll.in that the liquid oxygen supply to the hospital has been restored. The tank was filled in the early hours of the morning. In the wards, nurses said they were using a combination of piped oxygen and cylinders on Sunday.
Deepankar Sharma of Pushpa Sales, the company that was contracted to supply oxygen to the medical college and hospital, on Saturday had questioned the speed with which the hospital gathered funds, especially after days of not paying the dues, reported News18.
Managers of Pushpa Sales had written to Principal Rajiv Mishra on August 1, asking for unpaid dues amounting to Rs 65 lakh. The oxygen supply operators at the hospital wrote to Mishra, the chief medical superintendent and the nodal officer of the National Health Mission on August 3 and August 10, alerting them to the fact that the company might cut the oxygen supply to the hospital if the dues were not paid.
“We were unnecessarily harassed by Mishra for our payment,” Sharma told News18. “But after the tragic news, we were paid Rs 20.84 lakh in the evening. If the hospital had no funds for months, how did they make a payment of Rs 20 lakh suddenly?”
On August 9, a day before the oxygen supply was disrupted, Adityanath had visited the hospital. After inaugurating a 10-bed Intensive Care Unit and a six-bed Critical Care Unit, he had visited a ward meant for children with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. On Saturday evening, however, state health minister Siddharth Nath Singh said no one had brought the problem of the dipping oxygen supply to the chief minister’s notice.