The Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital in Barpeta, Assam was struck with tragedy after 8 newborns died within 24 hours.
According to local reports, 7 infant boys and 1 girl were being treated in the neonatal care unit of the hospital. All these infant deaths happened since Wednesday and as a result of that, the Director of Medical Education and a UNICEF Consultant rushed to the hospital for auditing the deaths.
Soon after the deaths, the families of the deceased attributed the deaths to the lack of proper diagnosis and inadequate followup. The unfortunate mothers in this case include, Safatan Begum, Hasina Khatun, Rufia Khatun, Jaigan Begum, Jabeda Khatun, Dipika Das, Helmina Khatun and Nirala Barman.
Such deaths in quick successions also resulted in allegations of wrong treatment, lack of life-saving drugs, shortage of doctors and unavailability of basic facilities for infants. The government and hospital administration on the other hand denied such allegations.
As per reports, the Principal cum Chief Superintendent of the hospital, Dr. Dilip Kr. Dutta claimed that almost all the babies died due to birth asphyxia which is caused as a result of lack of oxygen in the newborn. He further claimed that the babies were born with a precariously low weight of 1 Kg, 2 Kg, 2.2 Kg and the mothers were admitted late in the hospital which led to the situation.
The hospital has since then even issued a press-release. Apart from Dr. Dutta’s claims, the release also claimed that the hospital is fully sufficient to take care of such cases via the Special Care Newborn Unit (SCNU). It also claimed that even the mothers were seriously ill and the delivery was made as per protocol and the newborns too were so critical that they couldn’t be saved.
In this whole affair another angle has emerged, which is the possible lack of awareness among the locals in the region when it comes to medical care. This supposedly is a Muslim dominated area, and this may have made health care even more complicated, in a rather bizarre way.
In May it was reported that this Barpeta region was engulfed by a crazy rumour that a “RSS vaccine” would be administered in the region’s schools which would make the children infertile. As a result, the parents were refusing to send their children to schools.
This rumour came at a time when the state government was carrying out a vaccination drive against Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in various districts of the state but there was no such drive being carried out in the state’s schools.
The reports had even quoted the parents as alleging that administering such vaccines had killed a few children and as a result, they won’t allow its administration on their kids.
Such an affair now raises the question as to whether the delay in getting admitted in the hospital was a result of lack of awareness in the region when it comes to medical treatment or whether the hospital authorities had failed to get them admitted in time. A high level inquiry might reveal the answers.