The spate of infant deaths is continuing to haunt West Bengal as nine babies died at the Malda district hospital on Wednesday and Thursday.
Six babies including five girls died of critical ailments on Wednesday while three babies died on Thursday. The hospital authorities ruled out any lapse on the part of the doctors.
"Most of the babies were underweight, premature and were brought to the hospital at the very last moment," said hospital superintendent Himadri Kumar Anri. "Our doctors tried their level best to save the babies but they failed."The babies were in the age group nine months and below. The parents blamed the deaths on lack of doctors and proper medication in the hospital.
"My baby was born with breathing problems. The paediatric unit of this hospital was very crowded. But there were not enough doctors and nurses for the treatment of babies," said Mujjafar Sheikh, a resident of Harishchandrapur in Malda.
On Wednesday, his wife, Anjima Bibi, had given birth to a boy, which diedat the hospital the next day.
This district hospital was upgraded to the status of a medical college hospital earlier this year. But the infrastructure was not upgraded, doctors said. Hospital sources said there were 60 beds in the paediatric ward of the hospital. But sometimes two or three babies are kept on a single bed as the hospital gets very crowded.
"We recently appointed some new doctors for the medical college. But that is not adequate for treating critical cases," Anri said. Between October 25 and 28, 16 babies died at the BC Roy Children's Hospital — the only children's referral hospital in Kolkata. The Burdwan Medical College and Hospital also reported 12 deaths on October 27-28.
Alarmed at the abnormal death rates, the district health administration has ordered an inquiry into the deaths.
"A report has been sought from the hospital pinpointing responsibility and preventive steps being taken in this regard," said SP Basak, the state's director of health services.