Parents’ anger grows over child death toll at Indian hospital

More than 100 children have died in the past month in Kota’s JK Lon government hospital in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 09 January 2020

Parents’ anger grows over child death toll at Indian hospital

  • Lack of staff, equipment and overcrowding are the reasons many children die

KOTA, Rajasthan: Parvati has been lying on her hospital bed for two days, unaware that her newborn baby girl has died. The child was born prematurely and failed to survive, a victim of the medical facility’s poor hygiene, lack of staff and inadequate facilities.

More than 100 children have died in the past month in Kota’s JK Lon government hospital in the western Indian state of Rajasthan.

“We were referred to the district hospital by our village hospital because of complications in the pregnancy. Doctors managed to deliver the baby, but could not save her life,” said Devraj, Parvati’s husband.

“Lack of staff, equipment and overcrowding are the reasons many children die. Had there been proper heating inside the hospital, and adequate hygiene and infrastructure, my child would have survived,” he told tells Arab News.

“I am a daily-wage earner and I don’t have the resources to take my wife to a private hospital. The government hospital is our only hope.”

Sagar Singh from Baran village, also in Kota, lost his 23-month-old son after an oxygen unit at the hospital malfunctioned.

“I was hoping to celebrate my son’s second birthday on Jan. 15, but the doctor’s negligence and lack of proper hospital care snatched away our happiness,” he said.

With so many deaths at the maternity hospital, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded the resignation of the state’s chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, who belongs to the opposition Congress Party.

India’s Human Rights Commission has expressed shock at the deaths and asked the state government to explain the high mortality rate.

According to Dr. Rajesh Khanna, of the India office of Save the Children, the problem results from a “systematic failure” of the country’s health-care system.

“Blaming the doctor or hospital administration is useless. Unless the system recognizes that every child is precious, nothing is going to work,” he said.

“It is not that children are dying in Kota only. There are other cities in India where similar tragedies have taken place. Primary health care is also not functioning at the local level. As a result, when a case is referred to the district hospital in Kota, the patient is already at a critical stage, and due to limited capacity in the hospital he cannot be saved,” Khanna said.


Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

Updated 20 February 2020

Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was ‘shocked, saddened and devastated’ by the tragedy
  • A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns

SYDNEY: An ex-rugby league player is suspected of murdering his three children and estranged wife in Australia by burning them alive inside their car, in what police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered.

Officers said 31-year-old Hannah Clarke died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the car on a suburban street.

Her husband, Rowan Baxter, who also died, allegedly approached the vehicle and doused it with petrol before setting it alight, The Australian newspaper reported.

The paper said Clarke jumped from the burning car and rolled on the ground, saying “he’s poured petrol on me.”

Officials said she was rushed to hospital with severe burns following the “horrific” incident but later succumbed to her injuries.

Baxter, a 42-year-old former rugby league player for the New Zealand Warriors, was believed to be in the burning vehicle but got out and died on a footpath.

Queensland Police detective inspector Mark Thompson said Thursday that Baxter died as a result of burns and a self-inflicted wound.

“Information that’s to hand has led us to believe that the Baxter children and Hannah Clarke were killed and I don’t believe there’s any suspicious circumstances around the death of Rowan Baxter,” he said.

Clarke’s sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraiser to pay for funeral costs and support Hannah’s parents, who she said had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.”

“All those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was. Her children (were) her life,” Roberts posted on Facebook.

The page has so far raised almost Aus$100,000 ($67,000).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the tragedy, which has led to an outpouring of grief on social media.

“Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence and it just grieves our hearts terribly today,” he said.

Natasha Stott Despoja, a former senator and chair of anti-violence group Our Watch, called for stronger action to address violence against women in Australia, which she described as a “national emergency.”

“I know people want change, people are angry & sad today,” she tweeted. “How long before we stop this slaughter in our suburbs?“

A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said.

The emergency responders who attended the scene have been stood down from their duties and will receive support, he added.