The horror of infant deaths returned to haunt the Malda Medical College and Hospital on Friday when six babies died within a span of 10 hours. The condition of several other babies is stated to be critical.
The Malda hospital made headlines at least twice this year —first, when nine babies died within 36 hours in November and the second time when 15 babies died within 72 hours in mid-September.
This year beginning July, BC Roy Children Hospital, Behrampore Sadar Hospital, Jangipur Subdivisional hospital and Burdwan Medical College and Hospital, in West Bengal, witnessed nearly 100 deaths of infants and children.
Malda hospital authorities blamed the chilly weather for the deaths on Friday. “It is impossible for all the babies to bear the cold in Malda district,” said RR Samanta, acting super of the Malda Medical College and Hospital."There was no abnormality in the deaths. The babies were between one day to three months old, and all of them were suffering from respiratory problems, malnutrition and several other complications," added Samanta.
Parents and guardians, however, had a different version. Anjana Mondal of Sripur village, whose newborn died on Friday, alleged negligence by the hospital staff. “I am told that my baby had some complications since birth, but I never saw any doctor attend to her,” she said.
Another guardian said, “The babies are suffering a lot due to the cold weather, but the children’s ward in the hospital isn’t warm enough.”
Mujibar Sheikh from Dharampur village said, “My daughter Janinur Khatun (three months old) was suffering from fever and breathing problem, but she was not shifted to the special baby care unit even when her condition deteriorated.”
Principal of the Malda Medical College and Hospital, Dr Debasish Bhattacharya, told HT on Friday, “I am not looking into the infant deaths. The acting super is dealing with it”.