Nine infants have died at the Malda Medical College and Hospital (MMCH), which had witnessed several crib deaths earlier this year as well as last year.
While eight male babies died on Wednesday, the other, a girl, died a day earlier. They were all between a few hours and six months old.
As on earlier occasions the hospital authorities refused responsibility for the deaths. “Out of the eight babies only one had normal weight,” Uchchal Bhadra, the principal of MMCH, said. “When they were born, they were experiencing asphyxia, breathlessness and infection. Our doctors tried their best to save the babies.”
A senior doctor at MMCH said: “All the babies who died in Wednesday were from Malda. Six of them couldn’t survive more than six hours; they had several complications.”
“The babies’ mothers were married before they were 18,” the doctor said. “They were victims of malnutrition and hence gave birth to underweight babies, whose immunity was very low.”
Bhadra said the hospital got a large number of infants everyday and it was quite normal to have one or two crib deaths daily. “The latest crib deaths were due to malnutrition and other ailments,” he added.
The senior doctor claimed there was very little that could be done in such circumstances, except keep a close watch on the babies and checking on them at short intervals.
Between January 9 and 15 this year, 36 newborns died at this hospital.
The families, which lost their babies, have alleged negligence on the part of the hospital. “My seven-day-old baby was suffering from breathlessness; he was not opening his eyes,” Alimul Bibi, a resident of Madhyampur, about 400km north of Kolkata, said. “He died because doctors and nursing staff weren’t giving him proper attention.”
Malda district magistrate G Kirankumar said he had talked with the hospital authorities on the crib deaths. “They said the infants died due to ailments,” he added.
The crib deaths have made parents of other babies admitted at MMCH panicky. “My two-month-old son is admitted here for the last few days with a cardiac problem,” Saradha Das, a resident of Kaliachak said. “We have decided to get him released on risk bond. He is not getting proper treatment here. The condition of the most of the other admitted babies is the same.”