Glaring lapses at MGM baby ward

More than a year after 164 children, most of them infants, died amid allegations of negligence and poor infrastructure, not much has changed at state-run MGM Medical College and Hospital, a government committee set up to probe the deaths afresh has found.

By ANIMESH BISOEE in Jamshedpur
  • Published 13.09.18
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Two newborns share a single warmer at the neonatal ICU at MGM hospital in Jamshedpur in August last year

Jamshedpur: More than a year after 164 children, most of them infants, died amid allegations of negligence and poor infrastructure, not much has changed at state-run MGM Medical College and Hospital, a government committee set up to probe the deaths afresh has found.

The five-member committee, constituted last Friday to probe afresh the crib toll of May-August 2017, visited the Sakchi hospital on Wednesday to find 26 newborns crammed into six radiant warmers, two of them defunct.

It also found the paediatric ward, which house neonatal and postnatal intensive care units, grappling with manpower crisis. Against a sanctioned strength of 20 doctors, there are only five. The requirement is of 40 nurses, but the ward has only 15.

The recce by director-in-chief (health services) Dr Rajendra Paswan, medical education director Dr Laxman Lal, Kolhan regional deputy director (health) Dr Suresh Kumar, state child health cell director Dr Veena Sinha and child health expert Dr Ajit Kumar Prasad continued for nearly six hours from 12.30pm.

"There is an immediate need to relocate the paediatric ward to the new annexe, where NICU and PICU each have 10 beds," a member of the probe team was overheard telling MGM officials while doctors were asked to submit case sheets of all the 164 deaths.

The probe team was constituted by state health secretary Nidhi Khare following an order from Jharkhand Lokayukta Justice D.N. Upadhyay in July who heard an appeal of Jharkhand Human Rights Conference that said the earlier report that absolved MGM of negligence was superficial.

The rights outfit's president Manoj Mishra was asked on Wednesday to present his recommendations in writing. Mishra said the problem was more deep-rooted than it seemed. The earlier inquiry had given MGM a clean chit, saying most of the would-be mothers as well as infants brought after birth were malnourished.

"It had blamed low birth weight (indicative of malnutrition among pregnant women), birth asphyxia and premature deliveries for the crib deaths. Hence, I have urged the new probe team to check if the ICDS schemes like Janani Suraksha Yojana are being run properly and if Mamta Vahans, meant to rush women in labour to heal hubs, were doing their job," he said.

Mishra added that the earlier team had not spoken to any bereaved mother and thus, all these factors were grossly overlooked. "Our survey suggests that out of 180 special ambulances for would-be mothers, only 56 are on road."

Director-in-chief (health services) Dr Paswan said they would probe the crib deaths as thoroughly as possible. "We have toured the paediatric ward and spoken to the rights activist. Records and reports will be perused before we draw a conclusion."