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Spectre of crib deaths returns to haunt the Valley

The death of two infants at the district hospital in Baramulla in north Kashmir has brought back the spectre of crib deaths. Earlier in May, the GB Pant Children s hospital was in the news for an abnormally high number of infant deaths where accusations of medical malpractice, insufficient resources and government apathy were made by authorities and medical staff alike. This time it s the district hospital in Baramulla in north Kashmir where the two lives were lost because apparently the staff didn t turn on the generators when there was a power failure, according to the victims families.

The hospital denied the charges levelled by the families and a probe has been ordered into the alleged negligence. One of the infants had septicaemia, a blood disorder while the other had a respiratory problem and were under observation at the newborn care unit.

Despite our repeated pleas to start the generator, the officials on duty remained unmoved. Both infants died due to the acute hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature), a newspaper quoted Tariq Ahmed, father of one of the infants, as saying. We saw our babies dying in front of our eyes, Ahmed said. State health department director Saleem ur Rehma however believed that power failure couldn t be the only cause of death.

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There were three neonates under observation in the special unit on Friday. If what the parents say is true, then the third baby, who was more hypothermic than those who died, should not have survived, While one baby died in the hospital, the other, with severe infection, was referred to a children's hospital in Srinagar (about 45 km away), Rehman said. The baby died at Pattan while on way to Srinagar. There is a time gap of two hours between the two deaths. We can't say lack of power was the sole reason for the death, he added.

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