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.