By Linus Garg
First publised on 2020-01-07 08:30:06
Over a hundred infants have died at the J K Lon Hospital in Kota in Rajasthan. Instead of owning responsibility, finding out the exact reasons, taking corrective action and consoling the families, state Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has shamelessly tried to pass the buck to the previous BJP regime. He has also said that the deaths this year were the lowest since 2014. How does that absolve his government of anything?
There have been a lot of things that are being said regarding the issue. It is being said that the J K Lon Hospital is the only referral hospital for infants in the entire Kota division and hence receives a huge number of critical cases that result in above-average death rates. But over 100 babies dying in December alone point to a deeper malaise.
While the Paediatrics department of the Hospital reported to Kota Government Medical College that all equipment is in perfect functional shape and lack of resources was not the reason for the spurt in the death rate, the Secretary, Medical Education Department in Rajasthan government has admitted that the equipment is not maintained properly and there was a shortage of oxygen lines. Additionally, it was found that there was a 30% shortage of nursing staff.
But this is the standard response of politicians in such cases and Ashok Gehlot is not different. It happened when Yogi Adityanath tried to deflect responsibility when a similar incident happened at the Gorakhpur Medical College in UP. 61 babies had died at the hospital in 3 days and the administration had put forward excuses. In Kolkataâs BC Roy Paediatrics Hospital, 9 babies died in a day in 2011 and then 35 babies died in 5 days in 2013. The West Bengal government too had tried to pass it off as something that can happen in due course at a hospital that treats severally critical cases.
The point is that none of these hospitals admit that their facilities and resources are woefully short given the number of critical cases that come to them. If these hospitals have to deal with such cases on a regular basis, isn't it required that they upgrade the facilities as per the average number of cases received each year? The next requirement is to maintain the equipment and keep it in perfect running condition. The third requirement is to cancel the leave of all staff if there is a spurt in admissions and requisition additional staff on deputation from nearby hospitals in cases of emergency. But the bureaucratic manner in which government hospitals function and the callousness and insensitivity of the staff makes them a death trap for critical patients. It is a hopeless situation as the poor have nowhere else to go.