At least 522 infant deaths were reported from two major civil hospitals in Gujarat between October and December, data released by the state’s health ministry said, The Times of India reported on Monday. The data was released by the state’s Health Minister Nitin Patel on Sunday, the day Chief Minister Vijay Rupani refused to answer questions on the matter.
Between October and December, a total of 269 children died in the hospital in Rajkot, while 253 infants died in the Ahmedabad facility, Patel said. The minister, who is also the state’s deputy chief minister, said that the high number of infant mortality cases was unfortunate “but within limit”. He added that patients who were residents of other states were partially responsible for the increase in the figures.
At least 111 infants died at the state-run hospital in Rajkot while 88 of them died in the Ahmedabad facility in December alone, according to multiple reports. In October, 87 children died and 71 deaths in the Rajkot hospital were recorded in November, according to PTI. At the civil hospital in Ahmedabad, 91 infants died in October while 74 died in November.
Patel also attributed the rise in numbers to the cold weather in the last month, adding that overall infant mortality had reduced in Gujarat over the last two decades. The health minister said that the infant deaths had gone down from 62 per 1,000 in 1997 to 30 in 2017 with further reduction recorded in 2018 and 2019.
“Infant mortality rate is a matter of concern,” the minister said. “The number of deaths rose in December due to winter season. Lack of public awareness, malnutrition among mothers and pre-natal complications are other reasons.”
Patel said the government had set up 41 Sick Newborn Care Unit and increased the number of seats and institutions for medical education as shortage of doctors was a countrywide problem. The deputy chief minister also criticised the Congress for trying to distract people from the infant deaths in Rajasthan.
“I would like to ask the Congress governments in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh why patients from these neighbouring states come to Gujarat hospitals for treatment,” he said. More than 100 children have died in a hospital in Kota, Rajasthan, in December.