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Ashok Gehlot govt says child deaths down at Kota Hospital in 2019, BJP blames poor facilities

Under fire from opposition BJP over the deaths of 100 children in a Kota hospital last month, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot said on Thursday that the Congress govt had in fact brought down the number of casualties compared to that a year earlier.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 03, 2020, 09.36 AM IST
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State health minister Raghu Sharma said 963 children died at the hospital last year, including 100 in December and 101 in November.

Under fire from opposition BJP over the deaths of 100 children in a Kota hospital last month, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said on Thursday that the Congress government had in fact brought down the number of casualties compared to that a year earlier.

While the BJP cited non-functional ventilators and warmers along with generally poor facilities as the reasons for the deaths at the J.K. Lone Mother and Child Hospital, Gehlot said the mortality figure had actually come down.

State health minister Raghu Sharma said 963 children died at the hospital last year, including 100 in December and 101 in November, but the casualties were higher earlier – 1,005 in 2018, 1,027 in 2017, 1,193 in 2016, 1,260 in 2015 and 1,198 in 2014. The BJP ruled the state from 2014 to 2018.

“The mortality percentage (deaths-to-admissions) came down from 7.62% in 2014 to 5.61% last year,” Sharma said, adding that the ‘Nirogi (disease-free) Rajasthan’ scheme was launched by Gehlot last month.

The CM had earlier said that “children do die” at the hospital, sparking a spate of public criticism.

The BJP, which had sent various delegations of MPs and MLAs to the hospital, said pathetic facilities at the hospital were to blame for the deaths.

BJP leader and former state health minister Rajendra Rathore told ET that a majority of the ventilators and warmers were found non-functional, the nursing staff was inadequate and the Neo-Intensive Care Unit did not have a dedicated oxygen supply through a pipeline from the neighbouring Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Rathore, who had visited the hospital on Tuesday along with his party colleague and another former state health minister Kalicharan Saraf, also said samples to check for infection had not been collected from the wards for four months.

At least one death, of a four-year-old child, was reported on Tuesday due to cold as the hospital lacks enough blankets and heaters and many of its windows were found broken, said BJP’s Dausa MP Jaskaur Meena, who had led a three-member woman MP delegation to the hospital earlier this week.

The BJP MLA from Kota, Sandip Sharma, rushed to the hospital on Wednesday to donate blankets and heaters to patients. BJP MLAs have also announced aid of Rs 50 lakh for the hospital.

The state government has given a number of reasons for the deaths such as a majority of referral cases reaching the hospital from rural areas, including newly born children suffering from low birth weight, premature deliveries and nascent infections.

The BJP latched on to the issue at the central level as well, with Kota MP and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla holding a review meeting with Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on the matter and a Union health ministry team visiting the hospital for a ground check.

Gehlot, on his part, said on Thursday that any help from the Centre was welcome and that he would welcome any central team of specialists.

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