The Telegraph
Friday , November 25 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Panel glare on child health

Malda, Nov. 24: A team from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights today found that weak infrastructure, overburdened medical staff and lack of sanitisation were coming in the way of paediatric care at the district hospital here.

Five members of the commission led by Vinod Kumar Tikoo toured the hospital where 40 children had died between November 8 and 24. Most of the deceased were newborns.

The team was greeted by an overcrowded paediatric ward which was teeming with visitors. Each bed was shared by two children and their mothers.

Astonished by the presence of a large number of people in the paediatric ward, Tikoo and his colleagues asked some women why they had all gathered there. The women said they had to be present so that they could bring medicines to the patients as soon as the doctors had given prescriptions.

“Why are so many people in the ward? How can the patients be treated in such unsanitary conditions? Please do something,” Tikoo told hospital superintendent Himadri Kumar Anri.

The superintendent expressed his helplessness at the state of affairs. “We are short of doctors and nurses. Even the general staff members are not adequate and that is why we are not able to control the crowd. If we try to evict the visitors, they will turn violent.”

Anri said the 80-bed paediatric ward had only four doctors till a few days back. “Four more doctors were pressed into service after a spate of child deaths. Two teachers from Malda medical college are also helping us.”

He said 101 children were admitted to the ward today.

T.K. Maji, a child specialist, said the hospital didn’t have the minimum infrastructure required to treat children. “We do not have incubators or ventilators. A proper system to keep the place sanitised is also lacking,” said Maji.

According to the superintendent, 10,228 deliveries were handled by the hospital in 2010 and 2,608 of them were under the Caeserian section.

“We have been saying from the very outset that the hospital lacks infrastructure and staff strength. The team has seen for itself the kind of pressure we work under,” Anri said.

“We have told the central team that manpower has to be strengthened and necessary equipment should be in place for proper treatment.”

Tikoo said the team would return to New Delhi and submit a report to the Union ministry of women and child development.

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