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Kashmir infant deaths: scope for improvement says CM

india Updated: May 18, 2012 19:40 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

Facing severe criticism over increasing number of infant deaths, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday made a surprise visit to the valley’s lone children hospital, GB Pant Hospital, and admitted “there is scope for improvement in the functioning and maintenance of hospital”.

The chief minister, however, did not spell out the reasons for not acting on Government Medical College recommendations made in 2010, which would have stopped rising number of deaths.

“The government has already taken decisions regarding administration, staffing, equipment, sanitation, hygiene and other aspects relating to the improvement in the functioning of the hospital, making its monitoring a regular feature by the director Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) hospital,” said Abdullah.

The hospital has witnessed 358 deaths since January and 32 this month alone. The hospital, which is run jointly by the Army Cantonment Board and the Government Medical College (GMC), has failed to upgrade itself since its establishment in 2005. The poor location of the hospital in the city’s congested locality has also made ailing kids vulnerable.

Against the capacity of 200 bed, only 135 beds are spared for children healthcare, while 15 are meant for general surgeries, 15 for medicine and 35 for maternity.

The GMC recommends shifting the hospital to a location closer to the main maternity Lal Ded hospital, saying there is no land availability in the vicinity of the hospital for expansion.

“The support services required for paediatric sub-specialities (sic) not possible to come up at the present site. Play area is essential for paediatric patients but the site, at present, does not have enough space for parking,” says the GMC report.

The report also demands sub-specialities to cater to different requirements.

The number of patients admitted to the hospital has increased from 1.8 lakh patients in 2006-07 to 2.6 lakh patients in 2009-10.

“The need for establishing a tertiary referral children centre, particularly at Srinagar, is further supported by demographic fact of Srinagar and its centrality as location (Sic),” says the report.

During his visit on Friday, the chief minister promised to look into all aspects. “The government will not allow any decline in the situation. Improvement and upgrade is our focus,” said Omar.

The hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Javid Chowdhary has been taken to task on the basis of the interim report submitted by SKIMS director Dr Showkat Zargar.