The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Wednesday hinted at malnutrition as the main reason behind a string of newborn deaths at Ajmer’s Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital, one of the largest in the region.
Sixteen newborns have died at the government hospital since May 15 – the latest victim being a 14-day-old girl who succumbed on Wednesday when a three-member NCPCR team was visiting the hospital.
The hospital authorities said Rekha, who was referred from Masuda primary health centre, was brought in a very critical condition and was also underweight. “She died of cardio-respiratory failure,” JLN Hospital superintendent Dr PC Verma said.
Five newborns had died at the hospital in a single day, on May 15. More deaths followed, prompting the NCPCR to order an inquiry. The Rajasthan high court also took suo motu cognisance of the deaths to order an independent probe.
Talking to media persons after inspecting the neonatal ward of the hospital, one of the members of the NCPCR team, Rupa Kapoor, said malnutrition was a major reason behind the newborn deaths at the hospital.
“A majority of children referred here were underweight and in a very critical state. Because of malnutrition they had no or very less immunity and did not respond to treatment leading to their deaths due to multiple organ failure or septicemia or other reasons,” said Kapoor.
She, however, said doctors at the pediatric ward were “less sensitive” towards patients and that cleanliness at the neonatal ward needed improvement. Kapoor also said the neonatal ward was deficient of senior doctors to take care of critically ill patients.
Asked if ‘Janani Suraksha Yojna’ has failed to take care of expecting mothers in the state, member of State Commission for Child Rights Protection (SCCRP) RP Singh said, “We will visit villages to see if anganbaris are functioning properly.”
JLN superintendent Dr Verma told HT, “The issues raised by NCPCR members concerning the hospital and doctors have been brought to my knowledge. I have ordered the HOD pediatrics to arrange duties of senior doctors 24x7 in all the three units of the neonatal ward.”
On cleanliness, he said, “Cleanliness is satisfactory in hospital wards. However, by pressing more people in service we will improve it further, if there is any gap.”
Dr Verma refuted the charge that hospital doctors were insensitive.