Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Sunday said that a team of doctors from Delhi had arrived at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur district to look into the deaths of more than 60 children at the institute. He had said on Saturday that the children had died of encephalitis, though reports had alleged that they had died after a shortage of oxygen supply to the hospital.
“The matter will be investigated thoroughly,” Adityanath said. “The guilty in medical services will be given exemplary punishment. A special team has been constituted to investigate the deaths.”
The chief minister also invited the media to the hospital to report on the facts as they are, and that reporters and photographers will have access to the hospital wards to check the upkeep of the facilities. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is concerned over the children’s deaths in Gorakhpur,” he said, adding that the Centre was ready to help the Uttar Pradesh government.
Calling it a “fight against encephalitis”, Adityanath said more than 90 lakh children are vaccinated for encephalitis. “Nobody can be more sensitive towards those children than me,” he added. “This is my fourth visit to BRD Hospital.”
Fighting other diseases
Adityanath said he was also worried about “the rise of swine flu, dengue, chikungunya and other illnesses” in the state, and that the government was making special provisions to fight these diseases.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda said the Centre had approved Rs 85 crore to set up a central Viral Research Centre in Gorakhpur. The facility will help identify “the real problems of vector-borne diseases” in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and will help find “a permanent solution”.
Oxygen supply restored
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.
‘UP government has blood on its hands’
The Congress on Sunday accused the Uttar Pradesh government of burying the truth by launching an “operation cover-up”, demanding a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into the deaths of children at the Gorakhpur hospital.
“The chief minister, the health minister and the principal of the Baba Raghav Das Medical College are all responsible for the deaths,” said Congress Spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill at a press conference in New Delhi. “The UP government has blood on its hands. And now they have launched an operation cover-up.”
The party alleged that neglect and mismanagement had caused the high number of deaths. “How can an accused probe allegations against himself?”
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said there should be an all-party probe into this case. “Local media reports also hinted at the possibility of a large tragedy in the hospital,” he said. “Suspending the principal after this and announcing an inquiry into the matter is just eyewash...The matter should not be submerged at any cost.”
Meanwhile, Adityanath said “those whose sensitivity had died are now trying to add salt to the wound by raising the sensitive issue unnecessarily”.