'Infant mortality rate up in government hospitals'

'Infant mortality rate up in government hospitals' - Sakshi Post

The Constitution of India guarantees the right to education, shelter, livelihood and medical aid. Appallingly though, only a few of the underprivileged in India have access to these basic rights. If the recently released Unicef report is anything to go by, it's just the tip of the iceberg.   

Apparently, each day, 60 kids die in government hospitals across the state. This year, 22,000 kids sought treatment at various government hospitals. Unfortunately, most ended up losing their lives due to lack of facilities or non-availability of a specialist medical practitioner in the hospitals.

The state of government-run hospitals in the state is miserable to say the least. On the one hand, of the total number of doctors merely 5% are pediatricians in such hospitals. While on the other, only half of the available ventilators and oxygen cylinders are in working condition. Hospitals conveniently point fingers at the government's inaction stating they have already put forth a requisition for better facilities or improvement of existing facilities. However, the demand has fallen on deaf ears and the government has been a mute spectator to the alarming rise of infant deaths in the last three months.

During this period 130 kids have died at the Ruia Hospital in Tirupati, 365 in the last seven months at Warangal's MGM Hospital, and around 7,000 cases of infant deaths have taken at the Niloufer Hospital over the last one year. The numbers are only going up with no attention absolutely from any corner. Considering the number of child specialists is less, the demand for doctors and nurses is growing by the day. The case is even worse in medical institutes that have hospitals attached to them. Sadly, although the number of infant deaths has increased, there seems to be action whatsoever resulting in a situation where you have no guarantee that a sick kid who's admitted to the hospital will return home alive. Kids born with low birth weight (LBW) die due to lack of medical facilities.

The state has registered 14 lakh cases of birth every year. According to a study by the Unicef, of the 14 lakh babies born every year in the state's government hospitals at least 22,000 die due to lack of necessary amenities. More often than not, the women who come to government hospitals for delivery are malnourished thus increasing the chances of high-risk deliveries.

Government hospitals are only too quick to offer the lame excuse (which none is willing to buy), that kids who seek admission at the hospital are already in a bad shape when they come and they can do nothing to save the child considering they don't have advanced emergency care at their facility.

About 13 members from the Unicef carried out a study in government hospitals and medical institutes and handed over a 132-page report to the centre that brought to light some disturbing information. This bitter truth is straight from the horse's mouth — Unicef.

The statistics released by the Unicef report convince anyone that it would be a miracle if one got out of such hospitals alive. The appalling conditions in the government aided medical facilities simply make it impossible to harbour hope!

Now, for some figures that's nothing to cheer about!

Between May 2011 and April 2012, in a span of 12 months, around 22,000 infants deaths have been reported which means on an average 60 kids die every day! 

In Kurnool, about 34% deaths were reported during childbirth, 29.4% in Guntur and about 7,000 infant deaths in Hyderabad's Niloufer Hospital. The only piece of news that's a bit heartening is that according to Unicef, facilities at the Niloufer Hospital can be considered decent when compared to all the other government hospitals in the state.

Should the newborn have jaundice, then you simply have to give up any hope. The  necessary equipment is simply not there, neither do the phototherapy units work. Worse, doctors and nurses aren't trained properly to treat such kids. All this constitutes gross negligence. The Ruia Hospital at Tirupati doesn't even have wash basins for doctors to stay hygienic!

There are hardly any bio-medical engineers in the state and crores of rupees meant for improving medical services are left unused. Thus, the required equipment in government hospitals across the state is either not available or just doesn't work. 

Here's a look at the extent to which equipment in various hospitals works  

  • Siddhartha Hospital, Vijayawada — 20%
  • Niloufer, Hyderabad — 23%
  • Rangagaraya college, Kakinada — 25%
  • KGH, Visakhapatnam — 28%
  • Gandhi Hospital, Hyderabad — 52%
  • Government General Hospital (GGH), Guntur — 50%
  • Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital (MGM), Warangal — 51%

There are just 2,200 doctors in government hospitals with only 5% of the total number being pediatricians, while the minimum requirement is of 10%. There's a severe dearth of doctors in most hospitals across the state, coupled with a requirement for about 90 pediatricians and 77 anesthesiologists in 17 districts of the state. Added to this, there's a shortage of 600 nurses in pediatric wards. Every hospital is in a dire state. So one can well imagine the plight of kids! 

The plight of Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCU) is no better. Six months ago, the Directorate of Medical Education (DME)  had directed all the hospitals to take stock of the situation but in vain. The Unicef that inspected and assessed the government hospitals isn't satisfied one bit. The Unicef has given the lowest ranking to most hospitals stating they lack even basic amenities.

These statistics are clear indicators of the plight of government hospitals in the state:

Ruia, Tirupati

  • Ventilators don't work
  • No water facility
  • 16 pediatricians required, only 10 are available
  • No records maintained
  • Infant mortality is 15%

Rangaraya, Kakinada 

  • No oxygen cylinders
  • Shortage of doctors
  • High infant mortality 

GGH, Guntur 

  • Radiant warmers don't work
  • Labs are in miserable condition
  • Docs not available 24/7
  • 30% mortality rate

Gandhi, Hyderabad

  • No neo-natal care 
  • No facility to move patients between wards
  • Nothing works
  • No lab technicians 
  • Over 750 births every year, but no basic facilities

Niloufer, Hyderabad

  • Of the 80 radiant warmers to treat jaundice, only 20 work
  • Phototherapy units do not work
  • More patients, but no facilities

Siddhartha, Vijayawada 

  • No neo-natal ward
  • No oxygen 
  • Over 4,000 babies are delivered in a year, no labour rooms
  • 18% of women die due to lack of facilities

GGH, Kurnool 

  • No oxygen cylinders
  • No proper facility to carry out blood test 
  • No 24 hour medical service 
  • No lights
  • 34.5% kids die

KGH, Visakhapatnam

  • In the  kids ward of King George hospital , anywhere between a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 kids die each day.
  • Only junior doctors work during the night
  • Unicef calls for immediate setting up of neo-natal unit Need to improve SNCO services 
  • Equipment have stopped working due to lack of electricity
  • Improve services to shift kids between wards
  • Labs must be operational 24hours
  • SNCO has to be made fire-resistant
  • Increase the number of doctors and support staff 
  • Staff must be trained well
  • Records of birth/death needs to be maintained

We are doing our best: Niloufer 

"The number of patients coming to Niloufer Hospital for treatment has increased manifold. Despite that, we are admitting patients irrespective of the state they are in. However, kids are brought here in a critical state which is why they die." says Dr D Ranganath, superintendent, Niloufer Hospital.


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