Chief Minister Omar Abdullah visited the G.B. Pant Hospital in Srinagar on Friday where 368 children have died since Jan 1 allegedly due to negligence and inadequate facilities. Describing the situation at the hospital as grave, he said: ‘There is enormous scope for improvement. Levels of cleanliness are extremely poor inside the hospital…Greater discipline is needed with respect to the presence of attendants accompanying the patients.’ He, however, promised that within 10 days ‘you will see visible improvement not only in respect of the appearance, but in the overall functioning’. ‘My office and I had to step in because of the gravity of the situation,’ the chief minister said. Based on the preliminary report of the one-man inquiry ordered into the affairs of the hospital, the state government Thursday ordered the hospital’s medical superintendent to be shifted out.
The hospital is facing innumerable problem; lack of infrastructure, inadequate staff, insanitary wards, thrice the number of infant patients than they are equipped to handle . Doctors and hospital staff are adamant that the government has been ignoring their pleas for a long time. Official records suggest that the hospital admitted 4274 new born patients in 2011 and they recorded 475 neonatal deaths of which 320 were paediatric. Data for the last three years couldn’t be traced.
According to the medical fraternity in the Valley the doctors are doing the best they can with the resources at hand. Official records at the GB Pant hospital show that out of 1229 admissions 358 children died in 2012. The number of deaths in January was 68 while in February the figure stood at 66. In March 105; in April 85; in May (up to 12th) 34 deaths occurred. ‘We will be adding more trained and technical staff, and soon tenders would be floated to add some more infrastructures to the hospital. We would be happy if the government provides us more equipment, but unfortunately the G.B Pant Hospital has become a victim of official apathy,’ a senior paediatrician at the hospital said, asking not to be named.
The hospital has a capacity of 135 patients; however official records suggest that they get around 120 patients every day including back admissions and this leads to an unmanageable situation.
Dr Skowkat Ali Zargar, director of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, who is conducting an inquiry, said the government needed to work on alternatives to ease the pressure on the hospital. He said that he had suggested some measures to the hospital administration during a three hour meeting. ‘There are some flaws in the hospital on issues like ventilation and insanitary conditions. Besides, the security staff can’t be seen discharging their duties properly, which adds to the problem,’ he said.
’It is a grave concern for all of us that over 350 infants have died over the past five months at the hospital. It demonstrates negligence on the part of doctors and the government,’ Rashid said demanding immediate measures to provide best healthcare facilities to the patients. Earlier an independent MLA, Engineer Rashid protested outside the hospital calling them ‘mass murderers’. On Thursday, the medical superintendent of the hospital was relieved of his duties. Read more about the hospital’s problems in detail here.