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Sagarnil Mukherjee , Hindustan Times
Malda, November 28, 2013
If winter comes, can crib deaths be far behind? The horror of infant deaths has returned to Malda Medical College and Hospital (MMCH) with 12 newborns dying in the past 48 hours. While eight have died in the past 24 hours, four perished the day before. Winters often turn out to be the season for bursts of crib deaths, and even before winter has secured a foothold in Bengal, it has struck again.
MMCH is an old culprit in this regard.

As many as 36 babies died at the same facility between January 9 and 15 this year and 20 babies died in the same facility between October 15 and 19.

On Tuesday during a meeting with district officials chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was touring the district, expressed concern over the high rate of crib deaths in Malda and asked officials to take measures to curb it.

Bengal has been tormented by sudden spate of death of infants in state-run hospitals, and the government has repeatedly blamed it on a host of social factors such as early marriage and mothers who are both underage and suffering from malnutrition.

In most cases the villages don’t have adequate medical infrastructure and the newborns reach a critical stage by the time they reach district of state-level referral hospitals.

A hospital source told HT, about 150 babies has been admitted to the hospital and the condition of about 30 are very critical. “In last 48 hours 12 infants have died in this hospital and the figure is 8 between Monday and Tuesday midnight,” said viceprincipal of MMCH, MA Rashid.

“Out of the 12 only four weighed between 1-1.5 kg. The rest were less than 1 kg. Their immunity was very low,” said Rashid.

“The age of only two babies was over 1.5 month. The rest were below 72 hours. Most of these babies and their mothers were victim of malnutrition. Some babies were born with ailments like asphyxia, breathlessness, infection etc. These are the reason of their death. However we have already formed a committee to inquire the cause of the deaths,” said the vice principal.

After the death of the babies’ health secretary, Malay Dey visited the hospital on Wednesday.

The chairman of MMCH’s Patient Welfare Samiti and state tourism minister, Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury held a meeting with the health officials of Malda and health secretary and discussed how to curb crib deaths.

Talking to media Chowdhury said, “None died due to the negligence in treatment. They were victim of malnutrition and other ailments. A good number of babies were referred from the periphery hospitals at the last minute. Doctors did not get much opportunity to treat them. However, we are trying to improve the infrastructure of the hospitals in the remote areas.”