In eastern Uttar Pradesh, death of children is mere statistics. More so, at the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur.
While the death of 30 children over two days, allegedly due to lack of oxygen, has grabbed headlines, more than 3,000 children have died at the government-run hospital since 2012, official data show.
To put things in perspective, the 3,000-odd deaths are among 50,000 children killed in eastern Uttar Pradesh over the past three decades, most of them due to Japanese encephelitis (JE) and acute encephalitis syndrome (AES).
Hospital of death
More than 3,000 children have died at the BRD Medical College in the past six years. Most deaths during monsoon and post-monsoon periods
Health practitioners in Gorakhpur, chief minister Adityanath’s constituency, attribute negligence as a major factor for the high number of deaths.
“Earlier too, patients, majority being children, admitted in the encephalitis ward of the hospital had died due to negligence,” said AK Prasad, a Gorakhpur-based medical practitioner.
Sources said the college, developed as a nodal centre for treating the mosquito-borne diseases, is awaiting release of funds for strengthening its facilities.
In May, the college administration sent a proposal of Rs 37 crore for improving facilities, including maintenance of wards, ICU, medicine procurement, ventilators and laboratory.
The state government, in turn, forwarded the proposal to the central government for approval and allocation of funds.
“The release of funds is still awaited,” an official said.
Former principal of the college, KP Kushwaha, stressed on the need to amend the policy regarding JE and AES patients.
“Usually, officials do not provide the correct figure of encephalitis patients to the health and family welfare department, fearing that action will be taken against them,” he said.
He alleged that doctors who suppress the patient numbers are promoted and those who highlight are sidelined.
Kushwaha, who was earlier the head of paediatrics department in the College, said the state government should also establish encephalitis management centre for patients.
Rather than appointing doctors and paramedical staff on contract, the health department should appoint permanent doctors and staff who work with commitment, he added.
Over the years, political leaders of all hues have made a beeline to the hospital after each incident of mass children deaths.
Promises have been made to improve the facilities after each tragedy. But they have remained just that – promises.