Fourteen more infants have died at the JK Lon hospital in Kota in the last five days, taking the number of deaths to 91 this month. (Photo Credit: Representative image)
Fourteen more infants have died at the JK Lon hospital in Kota in the last five days, taking the number of deaths to 91 this month, even as apex child rights body NCPCR said it found the hospital to be in the "worst condition" with broken doors and windows, shortage of staff and pigs roaming in its campus.
"The 14 infants, including six newborns, died in the period between December 25 and December 29 in NICU and PICU units of the hospital," the newly appointed superintendent of the hospital, Suresh Dulara, said on Monday.
Earlier, 77 infants had died till December 24 including 10 within 48 hours on December 23-24, he said.
On the cause of deaths, Amrit Lal Bairwa, Head of Department of Pediatrics, said that they are analysing the reasons behind the 77 deaths till December 25.
Out of the 14 infants who died later, four succumbed to severe pneumonia, one to Meningoencephalitis, four to Congenital pneumonia, three to pneumatic septicemia, and one to respiratory disorder, he said.
A team from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights team visited the hospital, where 940 children have died this year, after which its chairperson Priyank Kanoongo issued a show cause notice to Vaibhav Galtiya, Secretary of Medical Education Department in Rajasthan government, and sought an action taken report from him on its findings.
"It is evident that there was no glass in windows panes, gates were broken and as a result the admitted children were suffering with extreme weather condition," Kanoongo said.
He also said the general upkeep and maintenance of the hospital is in the "worst condition".
"Pigs were found roaming inside the campus of the hospital," he said in the notice.
Kanoongo also said that there was acute shortage of staff and sought the action taken report within three working days.
Earlier, Galariya said a three-member team comprising Dr Amarjeet Mehta, Dr Rambabu Sharma and Dr Sunil Bhatnagar that is probing the infant deaths will submit its report in two days following which action will be taken.
The BJP, which has targeted the Congress government in Rajasthan over the child deaths, said it has formed a committee comprising four MPs to look into the matter.
The panel comprising Lok Sabha MPs Jaskaur Meena, Locket Chatterjee and Bharati Pawar, and Rajya Sabha MP Kanta Kardam has been asked to submit its report within three days to the party's working president J P Nadda.
Meanwhile, state BJP leaders and former health ministers Rajendra Singh Rathore and Kalicharan Saraf visited the hospital on Monday and interacted with the staff.
The two said they will send a report to the central government detailing the reasons behind the child deaths and recommendations to check such incidents in future and improve facilities at the hospital.
They slammed the Ashok Gehlot government for trying to defend itself with the argument that the number of such deaths was less now then under the BJP rule.
"Such deaths should not have occurred. Do they want to compete on the number of deaths... if they want to do so, there cannot be anything more unfortunate than this," Rathore told reporters.
He also demanded that state health minister Raghu Sharma visit Kota within next 24 hours to take stock of the situation here.
Saraf claimed that when the BJP government came to power in 2013, the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 47 which was brought down to 38, and mother mortality rate (MMR) from 244 to 186.
Congress workers staged a protest outside the hospital over the visit by BJP leaders and alleged that they were politicising the issue.
Rathore dismissed the allegation and said that they have come with a positive approach and will recommend steps to ensure that such deaths do not recur.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who is MP from Kota, had on Sunday expressed concern over the death of infants and urged the state government to act with sensitivity. He had visited the hospital to take stock of the situation and directed the officials to make adequate arrangement to ensure such incidents do not occur in future.
Meanwhile, social workers objected to visits by political leaders to the hospital, which is the largest government hospital in Kota-Bundi parliamentary constituency.
"The visits of the leaders have further worsened the situation as the doctors and medical staff attending to the patients get distracted," said Anwar Ahmad who heads an NGO.
According to official data, the hospital has witnessed a decline in such deaths in last six years. In 2014, 15,719 patients were admitted, out of which 1,198 died. In 2019, 16,892 patients were admitted out of which 940 died.
Officials said Secretary Galariya has directed the hospital administration to complete the tender process for getting necessary equipment at the earliest, besides laying oxygen pipeline for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), availing services of nursing staff on contractual basis and increasing sampling process frequency.