The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday removed Dr Kafeel Ahmad Khan as the nodal officer of the Department of Paediatrics at Baba Raghav Das Medical College hospital in Gorakhpur after he saved lives of several children by arranging oxygen cylinders on his own.
At least 60 children have died at the BRD Hospital since August 7 reportedly due to infections and lack of oxygen supply. However, the state government has claimed the deaths did not take place due to oxygen shortage.
The state government has set up a panel to probe the tragedy while the Centre has promised to set up a regional medical centre in Gorakhpur for the in-depth study on children's diseases.
Media reports suggest Khan saved the lives of children suffering from encephalitis by arranging oxygen cylinders with the help of a friend and a local supplier. The company that furnished oxygen cylinders to the hospital had cut the supply due to non-payment of dues.
When Khan got a call at 2 am on Friday from BRD Hospital saying oxygen supply would run dry within an hour, he rushed to a friend's nursing home and borrowed three cylinders. He reached the hospital with the three cylinders in his vehicle an hour later. However, the cylinders lasted only for about half an hour.
When oxygen level dropped the next morning, Khan directed the junior doctors at the hospital to pump oxygen using Ambu bags - small pumps used manually to aid breathing. Meanwhile, he reached out to local suppliers, one of whom agreed to supply oxygen cylinders if paid in cash. Khan, a paediatrician and head of the hospital's encephalitis ward, paid Rs 10,000 out of his own pocket and managed to get around 12 cylinders to the hospital in his car.
"What's the use of all the money and our education when we can't save lives. Money has no meaning if we cannot save a life. I saw so many kids die in front of me and I couldn't do anything to save them," he was quoted by News18 as saying.
Khan has been replaced by Dr Bhupendra Sharma. This comes a day after the state government suspended Rajeev Mishra as the principal of BRD College for the delay in payment to the oxygen supplier. Dr PK Singh, Principal of Rajkiya Medical College, Ambedkar Nagar, has been given additional charge of BRD Medical College.
Nobody can be more sensitive than me: Yogi Adityanath
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited BRD Medical College hospital in Gorakhpur amid growing demand for his resignation by the Opposition parties. The Opposition has also demanded Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh resign on moral grounds.
"Nobody can be more sensitive towards those children than me," Adityanath said reiterating that an investigation into the tragedy had been initiated and that "if anyone's negligence caused death of a person... he won't be spared." He made the remarks while addressing a press conference along with Union Health Minister JP Nadda, who also visited the hospital.
The CM also spoke about his visit to the hospital earlier and said: "When I questioned the hospital authorities if they needed any assistance, they said they didn't. I asked authorities to tell me about the arrangements made to combat encephalitis and to state their problems because I was worried about other diseases like dengue and chikungunya as well."
Adityanath also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured him all the necessary help.
"We have constituted a committee to investigate into NICU and encephalitis deaths and also probe the alleged disruption of oxygen supply. I can assure you, not just Gorakhpur, if there has been negligence anywhere in Uttar Pradesh causing harm to public life, strict action will be taken against them," the CM added.