Infant deaths in Rajasthan hospital rise to 102

At least two more infants died at the JK Lon hospital in Rajasthan’s Kota on Wednesday night, taking the toll since the start of December to 102. Eleven children died in the hospital over the last 72 hours alone, prompting the intervention of union health minister Harshvardhan.

Pointing out that the number of deaths is definitely higher this time compared to the last few years, the union minister on Thursday assured support to the state in tackling the health crisis. “I have written a letter to Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot requesting him to look into the matter,” he said.
At least 100 children died at the hospital in December 2019, against the 77 infants that died in the hospital in December 2018. In the last two days of 2019, nine infants had died – four on 30 December and five on 31 December, all mainly due to low birth weight, hospital superintendent Dr Suresh Dulara said.
The rising number of deaths also forced Congress president Sonia Gandhi to seek an explanation from the party’s state president Avinash Pandey. Pandey said a detailed report on the deaths has been submitted to the Congress chief.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who earlier said infant deaths are common, today assured that his government is sensitive to the deaths of sick infants at the JK Lone Hospital amidst rising criticism from the opposition. He, however, insisted that there should be no politics on the issue.
“Infant mortality in this hospital of Kota is steadily decreasing. We will try to reduce it further. The health of mothers and children is our top priority,” he wrote on the micro-blogging site.
The Congress CM also wanted a team of experts from the centre to help improve health services in the state. “We are ready for the improvement of medical services in the state with their consultation and cooperation,” he tweeted.
The fresh deaths came two days after a committee formed by the state government said that the hospital had given the infants the right treatment and cleared the hospital of any lapses.,.
The hospital administration also last week appointed a three-member committee, headed by the chief of its paediatrics department, Amrit Lal Bairwa, to investigate the deaths.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Monday, however, found serious lapses at the hospital in Kota, and said its inspection had found broken windows and gates, pigs roaming inside campus and acute shortage of staff.
Hospital authorities, however, said the number of deaths reported at the health facility in 2019 has witnessed a steady declined from 1,198 in 2014 and 1,005 in 2018 to 963 in 2019. 
The nursing in-charge of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which specialises in looking after premature and sick newborns, has been replaced, authorities said. Efforts for upgradation and maintenance of equipment at the hospital have been caompleted, following directions by the state government.
Medical College Principal Dr Vijay Sardana said an order has been issued for installation of central oxygen supply line at the hospital and the work would be completed within the next 15 days.
The direction was issued a day after a BJP parliamentary team comprising of MPs Locket Chatterjee, Kanta Kardam and Jaskaur Meena visited the hospital and expressed concern over its infrastructure. The panel had said that two to three children were found on single beds and the hospital did not have enough nurses.