Ahmedabad: Eleven newborns have died at the civil hospital here since Friday midnight, prompting the Gujarat government to order a probe into the circumstances and causes of their death.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday visited the hospital and assured action in case the deaths are caused due to negligence or lack of facilities. Early in the day, he had held meeting with top Health department officials in Gandhinagar regarding the incident. The government said in a release that five babies that were brought here from distant places and suffered from "extremely low birth weight" complications, while some suffered from life-threatening diseases and were in a critical condition.
"Of the nine deaths in the 24 hours, five babies were referred from distant places -- Lunawada, Surendranagar, Mansa, Viramgam, Himmatnagar -- and were having severe life threatening conditions such as extremely low birth weight (around 1.1 kg), hyaline membrane disease, early onset septicaemia and disseminated intra-vascular coagulation," the release read.
Besides, four babies born at the civil hospital "died due to lethal complications such as severe birth asphyxia and meconium aspiration", it said. Hospital Superintendent M. M. Prabhakar said two more babies have died since Saturday night, taking the toll to 11 since Friday midnight. "While a newborn died of cancer, another succumbed to complications arising out of extremely low birth weight," he said.
With this, 20 babies have died in the past three days at the facility, Prabhakar said. A three-member committee under R. K. Dixit, Deputy Director of Medical Education, will inquire into the circumstances and causes of death, the release said.
Talking to reporters after visiting the facility, Rupani said, "The government will take action if the deaths are due to lack of facilities or negligence of doctors. We have asked for investigation into each of the nine cases and will be able to comment after that."
Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare department, Jayanti Ravi said the condition of some of the babies had already deteriorated and they had to be referred to the civil hospital here from distant places as doctors there might still be on Diwali vacation. The committee will look into the reasons for the deaths and it is expected to submit its report in a day, she said.
"Being the main hospital in the state, all complicated cases are referred here. It is natural that many babies are not able to survive despite (our) efforts," she said.
According to the government, "extremely low birth weight deliveries" continue to be a challenge in Gujarat in view of "suboptimal nutritional status of pregnant women". The average number of deaths of newborns at the Ahmedabad civil hospital is around five to six per day, the release added. Meanwhile, members of opposition Congress protested outside the office of the superintendent of the hospital over the child deaths.