The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Same tale in south districts

Calcutta, Sept. 5: The fate of babies in the district hospitals of south Bengal is not unlike that of their counterparts in Calcutta.

The toll of newborn babies in Behrampore district hospital since Monday is the same, if not more, than that in Calcutta’s B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children.

In Behrampore’s paediatric ward, 45 babies have died since August 15. Hospital sources, reluctant to part with figures, said most of the deaths were due to enteric and viral diseases.

Enquiries in the Behrampore hospital’s Matri Sadan revealed that 18 newborns had died between Monday and Thursday. Hospital sources said at least two babies die in Matri Sadan every day.

Outside the maternity ward stood Sanjoy Mondal, whose wife, Manasi, lay unconscious after delivering a stillborn baby. “The doctors tied her to the bed and left without going for a Caesarean section. When they did, it was too late. I don’t know whether my wife will survive,” Mondal said.

In Calcutta’s M.R. Bangur Hospital, which serves as the district hospital for South 24-Parganas, the scene is just as chaotic. Mothers crowd the paediatric clinic with listless children on their laps.

“What can I do but wait' The doctor came in the morning and I am waiting for him to see my child once again in the evening,” said Sushila Gayen, who had come all the way from Namkhana.

Hospital superintendent Debashis Haldar was reluctant to part with the fatality statistics in the paediatric ward. When asked if the number of deaths were more than five every month, Haldar said: “If that was the case, we would have wrapped this place in gold.”

At Burdwan Medical College Hospital, three babies were seen lying today in a four feet by two feet crib and as many as 132 children had been admitted in the 60-bed paediatric ward. Ten babies have died in the hospital over the past two days.

“The doctors have roaring private practices in town and hardly ever come on regular rounds,” alleged the mother of a patient.

The medical college principal, Bijoy Mukherjee, complained that the hospital had to cope with patients from Bankura and Birbhum.

The situation is hardly better in the newly-created districts of Paschim and Purba Midnapore. Paschim Midnapore hospital superintendent N.K. Marik said there were 400 deaths to about 10,000 paediatric cases admitted to the hospital before the district was divided.

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