Burdwan, Oct. 25: The government today virtually gave a clean chit to the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital authorities over the spate in children’s deaths with minister of state for health Pratyush Mukherjee rejecting charges about lapses leading to the sudden rise in the mortality rate.
Mukherjee, who arrived here this morning from Calcutta for a first-hand account of the incidents, said after a meeting with the hospital authorities that the rate in which children were dying at the hospital was “normal compared to the figures in previous years”.
He quoted from the “report on death cases for the period from October 19 till date” to claim that the authorities were in no way responsible for the toll since last Saturday that stood at 25.
The report pointed out that most of the cases were referred to by other hospitals and “the patients were brought in serious condition”.
The minister claimed that “proper care” was taken in the treatment of the children, “most of them being under-weight”, but conceded that the hospital should take “greater care” to deal with “such patients in future”.
Mukherjee, who met the medical college principal, the chief medical officer of health and the chief health officer of the zilla parishad, later went to the children’s ward.
He said the government has no intention to hide facts and figures regarding children’s deaths. “We are really concerned over the matter. I have come here to get a detailed report on the state of affairs in the hospital. We are trying to find out whether administrative negligence or infrastructural lapses were responsible for the deaths.”
The statistics that Mukherjee reeled out showed 864, 917 and 1,192 children died at the hospital in 1999, 2000 and 2001. This year, 866 children have died so far.
Despite the minister’s claim that the rate of mortality has not gone up, there were apprehensions that the figure this time might exceed the previous years’.
Trinamul Congress, Congress and BJP supporters today staged demonstrations at the hospital superintendent’s office, demanding “an impartial inquiry into the children’s deaths and exemplary punishment for the doctors and hospital staff responsible for it”.
Anindya Gopal Mitra, member of the BJP’s state secretariat, said the party has urged Union health minister Shatrughan Sinha to inspect the hospital during his one-day visit to the state on November 15.
Sinha is coming to Calcutta mainly to inquire about the baby deaths at the B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital, the only referral hospital for children in the state. “We will request the health minister to visit the Burdwan hospital as well. The Centre will take the initiative to improve the hospital’s infrastructure if the state government fails to undertake the task,” he asserted.