895 babies died at the G B Pant hospital last year; why was the state government quiet?

While there has been a lot of hue and cry about the fact that 380 babies died at the G B Pant Children s Hospital in Srinagar, the fact is that almost 900 baby deaths were reported last year as well. The Department of Medical education which governs the paediatric hospital seems to have overlooked this particularly startling statistic.

That negligence has taken place is obvious because protocol dictates that all hospitals which are falling under the Medical Education department have to convey their mortality numbers to the Principal Government Medical College, Commissioner-Secretary and the Minister concerned. As per the data sent to Principal Government Medical College here, 895 deaths were reported last year. This year the number of deaths stands at 380 so far.

Official sources said this year there had been 68 infant deaths in the hospital in January, 66 in February, 105 in March, 85 in April and around 56 up to May 15 this year.

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The average deaths per day at the hospital is almost same for 2011 (2.45) and 2012 (2.42).

We seem to have reached an age where only when a hullabaloo is raised by the media or TV shows (Read:Satyamev Jayate) does the state or centre machinery swing into action. In recent weeks, CM Omar Abdullah visited the hospital and promised visible changes within 10 days, whereas Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad called it matter of shame that so many babies were dying at the hospital.

Senior doctors of the hospital however say that mere administrative changes won t really solve anything. "We are short on staff here, short on life saving equipment and there is huge rush of patients. It is not humanly possible that every patient can be attended as well as ought to be," said a senior doctor on the condition of anonymity.

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