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Havan in Hyderabad hospital ‘to save newborns’ draws flak

The criticism has forced Hyderabad’s Gandhi Hospital to initiate an inquiry.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2017 23:47 IST
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Gandhi Hospital,Havan,Healthcare in India
Hospital officials have denied that crib deaths prompted the ritual --- in which offerings such as grains and ghee are burned in a small fire amid the chanting of hymns.(Shutterstock photo)

Senior doctors and staff of a 150-year-old government hospital in Hyderabad performed havan to allegedly appease the gods after a string of crib deaths in the maternity ward.

The hospital was drawing flak for the death of six newborns in weeks preceding the ritual.

The four-hour “mrityunjaya havan” at Gandhi Hospital on Monday triggered outrage with people alleging that doctors were falling back on religious rituals, instead of focusing on appropriate treatment to patients.

Hospital officials, however, denied that the deaths prompted the havan in which offerings such as grains and ghee are burned in a small fire amid the chanting of Hindu hymns.

“Recent mortality rates are not higher than before. This is a tertiary-care hospital and critical cases are referred here in late stages of illness. Since we don’t turn anyone away, there are bound to be some deaths,” N Narasimha Rao, the hospital’s deputy superintendent, told the local media.

But the outcry forced the hospital administration to initiate an investigation. Doctors and staff were told to avoid such rituals on the premises.

“We never encourage such things,” Rao said, and promised action based on the probe report.

Doctors also dismissed allegations that taxpayer’s money was wasted in the havan to prevent baby deaths, saying it was self-sponsored by the medical staff.

Hari Anupama, who heads obstetrics and gynaecology, told reporters: “A few nurses, Class IV employees, a few patients and I participated. We collected the money, voluntary donation. Also, it happened outside in the corridor, not in the ward.”

About 25 to 30 babies are born in the hospital every day. The number of deliveries spiked after the government recently began giving maternity benefits that includes cash to expectant mothers and items required for a newborn.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 23:47 IST