Infant deaths returned to haunt Malda Medical College and Hospital (MMCH) once again after a gap of two months with nine infants dying between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. In the last 72 hours there have been as many as 13 deaths.
In the past, chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who holds the health portfolio, blamed the deaths on the poor healthcare system in the rural areas. After Thursday’s casualties Dr Asit Biswas, spokesperson of the state health department, maintained that the state has the “fourth lowest infant mortality rate in the country”. He added, “From the health department we have taken all possible measures to curb the crib deaths at MMCH.”
“The babies who died in MMCH were suffering from several ailments and the mothers of most of them didn't even get enough nutrition during their pregnancy. This is the main reason behind the deaths," said Biswas.
There are more than 100 babies in the facility and many of them are critical.
"On an average, one or two babies die in this hospital every day. Most of them were referred to this hospital from other areas. Some babies were brought from Jharkhand and other districts at the very last stage,” said a senior doctor from MMCH.
“A number of women have given birth to babies in MMCH even before they attain the marriageable age of 18 years. As a result, they gave birth to sickly and underweight babies, who lack immunity,” said another doctor.
Guardians, however, blamed staff for negligence. “My baby is critical, but the doctors aren’t attending to him properly. They have turned down my appeal to shift him to the newborn care unit. The nurses, too, behave rudely,” said Rahim Sheikh, a resident of Chanchol, Malda.