Death is stalking the neo-natal ward of West Bengal’s Malda Medical College and Hospital (MMCH) again.
Over the last six days, 24 newborns have died — five babies have died within 24 hours alone.
The hospital has been hitting the headlines regularly over baby deaths (see box). But the authorities claimed the death rate was not abnormal.
“The figure is looking high because of the high number of admissions, which far exceeds our capacity,” said Uchhal Bhadra, principal, MMCH. There are 30 beds in the neo-natal ward and 46 in the paediatric ward. But now, 156 babies are admitted in the paediatric ward alone.
“Besides, in winters, the neonatal mortality rate is high. So many babies came at the last moment, when the doctors could do little,” Bhadra said.
The parents, however, accused the hospital of neglect.
“My 22-day-old son was suffering from breathlessness and high fever. Last night, he died here, practically without treatment,” said Afroza Bibi, a resident of Malda-Kaliachak.