A total of 49 children died within 30 days at a district hospital in the month of August in Uttar Pradesh's Farrukhabad, allegedly due to lack of oxygen supply.
An FIR has been registered against the chief medical officer (CMO), chief medical superintendent (CMS) and the doctors at the at the Ram Manohar Lohia Rajkiya Chikitsalaya, Farrukhabad Superintendent of Police Dayanand Mishra was quoted by India Today as saying.
After the deaths were reported by local channels, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's office took cognisance of the matter and directed District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar to investigate the deaths. Kumar ordered a megisterial inquiry into the incident after 19 notices sent to the hospital authorities went unheeded.
The probe confirmed that the deaths happened due to lack of oxygen supply, Kumar was quoted by PTI as saying. He added that the FIR was registered accusing the CMO and CMS of callousness under Sections 176, 188 and 304 of the Indian Penal Code. Top district officials have also been removed following the incident.
Laxity and lack of medicine and oxygen supply have been cited as the reasons behind the deaths of the children. The deaths were reported from July 20 to August 21 this year.
A report submitted by the district administration states that as many as 19 infants are believed to have died at the time of delivery at the hospital while another 30 died during treatment in the sick newborn care unit (SNCU).
Blame game over deaths begins
The hospital authorities have claimed that most of the deaths took place either because the infants were extremely underweight or prematurely born or due to their delayed arrival at the hospital in a critical state.
"Mortality in such children is quite high. Often, we get children who weigh less than a kilo or two kilos... At times, the children are born with complications or there is a delay in being referred to the hospital from primary health centres. All these are the reasons," SNCU in-charge Dr Kailash Kumar was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.
Dr Akhilesh Agarwal, chief medical superintendent of women hospital, said that 24 of the 30 children who died were born in private hospitals or elsewhere and were brought to the government hospital in a critical condition.
Meanwhile, Dr Archana, who works in the hospital's maternity wing, claimed that lack of awareness among mothers was the reason behind the deaths.
"They (mothers) are not educated, not aware. Their children have water or blood deficiency but they will not come to know unless the issue becomes complicated... Often they delay the surgery, taking much time in deciding if they should go for it," Archana said.
Action will be taken: District Magistrate
However, the district magistrate said that the hospital has been avoiding questions about the death of the 19 children, who were born in the hospital.
He added that the hospital authorities cannot escape the explanation about the deaths of children born at the hospital. "Let the city magistrate's report come in, effective action will be initiated," he was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.
The deaths come less than a month after over 60 children — most of whom were suffering from encephalitis — died at the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur, allegedly due to lack of oxygen.