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Not only hospital, WCD department also responsible for Banswara infant deaths, says report

The Rajasthan government had set up a four-member committee to probe the infant deaths. The committee submitted its report on September 4.

jaipur Updated: Sep 05, 2017 20:36 IST
P Srinivasan
P Srinivasan
Hindustan Times
Banswara,Rajasthan,Neonatal deaths
Banswara district hospital.(HT Photo)

After analysing the inspection report of the four-member committee, which probed the death of 81 newborns at Banswara district hospital, it is clear that apart from the hospital’s negligence, the woman and child development (WCD) department, too, is responsible for the deaths.

Hindustan Times is in possession of the report. The Rajasthan government on August 31 had set up a four-member committee, headed by Dr SM Mittal, to probe the infant deaths in the last two months at the state-run hospital in Banswara.

On Monday, the government suspended three doctors, including a principal medical officer, and put five doctors on awaiting posting orders. Disciplinary action has been initiated against three doctors and four nursing staff.

The inspection revealed that a 24-year-old woman, who was pregnant with her third child and weighed just 35 kgs, had been to anganwari centre thrice. Her husband said that though she was immunized and given tablets (like iron folic acid), during her entire pregnancy she was not given nutritional supplements even once. The woman delivered an underweight baby weighing just 1,400 grams.

The probe committee found that pregnant women whose age was mentioned to be above 18, in reality, were between 16 and 18 years and even younger. Becoming a mother at a young age increases chances of neonate deaths because of low birth weight and premature delivery.

The committee has recommended writing to the integrated child development services (ICDS) to ensure nutrition supplements are given to all pregnant women.

WCD minister Anita Bhadel said that child marriage is the biggest problem for which the department has launched a campaign. “It is a serious issue and efforts are being made to make people aware of the consequences of child marriage. It is a tough job to change the mindset but efforts are on and soon results will be visible,” she said.

She also mentioned that the department has stopped many child marriages and FIRs have also been lodged. In many cases, child marriages have also been nullified.

Talking about the anganwari centres not giving nutritional supplement to pregnant women, Bhadel said, “Pregnant women registered with anganwari centres are given nutritional supplement. Those who are not registered won’t get the supplements. It is a serious problem if a pregnant woman, who is registered, has not been given nutritional supplement. I have not received any such complaints as of now. Action will be taken if I get such complaints.”

The issue came to light when the Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO), Banswara, Dr HL Tabiyar noticed that the district hospital has recorded deaths of 81 neonates (newborns who are less than four weeks old) in July and August, following which he conducted a probe.

“Of the deaths, 37 were due to birth asphyxia. Those 37 newborns could have been saved. We will find out the doctors responsible for this and initiate action against them,” Tabiyar had told HT.

Birth asphyxia is a medical condition resulting from deprivation of oxygen to a newborn during the birth process.

First Published: Sep 05, 2017 20:36 IST