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8 babies die in Malda in 24 hrs

- Health secretary seeks report, Krishnendu says ‘no medical negligence’

Malda, Nov. 27: Eight babies have died at the Malda Medical College and Hospital in the past 24 hours prompting the state health secretary, who is camping in the district, to seek a report on the incident.

Sources said the report has been prepared and it mentions that septicemia, low birth weight and respiratory problems led to the death of the babies.

This morning, health secretary Moloy Dey visited the paediatric and neo-natal departments of the hospital and spoke to the doctors and nurses. He, however, did not reveal what he told the staff. “The chief minister has already said what she had to about crib deaths at the meeting here yesterday. I have nothing to add,” is all he said.

Yesterday, the chief minister had instructed health officials to get to the root of the matter. “There are many mothers who give birth at home. You have to lay stress on the health of the expectant mothers and the newborn babies. They have to be given nutritious food otherwise the deaths cannot be prevented. You have to ensure that babies are not born with low birth weight. We have a Sick Newborn Care Unit at the hospital. The number of (baby) deaths at the Malda hospital has come down,” Mamata had said.

The report that would be sent to Calcutta soon states that three of the eight babies who died in the past 24 hours had low birth weight, three had respiratory problems and two had septicemia. While seven babies were between a day and a week old, a one-and-a-half-month-old boy who died was suffering from broncho-pneumonia, sources said.

Today, state tourism minister and Englishbazar MLA Krishnendu Chowdhury held a meeting with the health secretary, the medical college principal, Saibal Banerjee, and vice-principal, M.A. Rashid. “We have discussed the issue of baby deaths. There was no medical negligence. The state is aware of the pressure on the hospital. Any death is unfortunate. The babies died because of low birth weight, septicemia and respiratory infection. There is a staff shortage at the hospital and the state is trying its best to solve the problem,” he said. Sources said all 27 beds at the SNCU of the hospital are occupied. There are 51 babies admitted to the 50-bed neo-natal ward and 65 children at the 50-bed paediatric ward.