30 kids die in 2 days from encephalitis
Thirty children died in the Government-run BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh during the last 48 hours amid allegations by parents that at least seven children died from “disruption” of oxygen supply as the hospital had failed to clear the suppliers’ bill of Rs 67 lakh, a claim that the hospital management has denied.
Two days ago, the suppliers had informed the hospital administration that it would not be able to supply oxygen unless the dues were cleared.
District Magistrate Rajiv Rautela has been quoted saying seven deaths were reported since Thursday night to Friday noon. Twenty-three children died between Wednesday and Thursday. “Total 30 deaths occurred in 48 hours,” he said. The DM, however, said the hospital denied that any deaths took place due to interrupted oxygen supply. “Doctors said alternative arrangements were made to deal with the emergency,” he added.
But sources insisted there was some problem in the oxygen supply line on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday creating a scare in the hospital. As patients started gasping for breath, there was a chaos in the encephalitis ward.
“Seven children died of lack of oxygen in the ward,” said Sameer Chaudhry, whose six-year-old nephew is admitted in the hospital.
“The junior doctors tried to salvage the situation, but they were helpless because there was no oxygen. At night cylinders were brought and oxygen supply was restored but by morning the hospital ran out of supply,” he said.
Principal Secretary of Health Department Prashant Trivedi denied these allegations.
“There was some problem in the oxygen pipeline at night. The situation was managed through cylinders. The hospital administration has enough supply of cylinders in its stock. So, the report about death of children because of lack of oxygen is false,” he told The Pioneer.
Sources in the hospital said oxygen plant was installed in the hospital two years back.
One Pushpa Sales Firm used to supply oxygen cylinders but the hospital has not cleared the dues with dues going up to Rs 68 lakh.
“Two days back the company had informed hospital administration that it would not be able to supply oxygen unless the dues are cleared. Probably, the company has adhered to its threat resulting in lack of oxygen supply,” the source said.
The DM admitted that the payment was due but said there was no scarcity of oxygen. “We still have 100 cylinders with us,” he said.
Incidentally, Gorakhpur is the native place of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and in his previous visits to the city he had showed his resolve to eradicate encephalitis and make BRD as the state of the art hospital in eastern UP.
The BRD Medical College has a 100 bedded encephalitis ward where children from
eastern Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Bihar are admitted. The disease has been a serial killer for the last 36 years. The death rate, 2 to 3 years ago, used to range between 16 and 20 per cent but in the last couple of years it has taken a dangerous turn. The mortality rate rose to 29 per cent in 2013 and is above 30 per cent since 2014.
The disease has so far killed several thousand children in last three decades with 2005 being the worst in which over 1,500 children had died drawing global attention.
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