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Crib death horror continues at BC Roy

KOLKATA: Crib death continued to stalk BC Roy Memorial Hospital for Children on Monday with the death of three more babies. The number of crib deaths in the past 48 hours rose to eight, taking the toll to 31 since Friday.

On Monday, Domkal’s eight-month-old Ashiya Khatun, Gaighata’s one-month old Jaya and a six-month-old male baby from Chapra lost their lives at the hospital. According to hospital sources, all of them were referred from other hospitals in a serious condition.

“Reasons for the deaths include bronchial pneumonia, septicemia and meningitis. In fact, two babies who had congenital heart ailment were suffering from pneumonia as well. All of them were brought in a serious condition. There has been no negligence on part of the hospital staff,” said hospital principal Dr Mala Bhattacharya.

Hospital sources corroborated the principal’s comment, saying five to six deaths per day in this hospital was nothing ‘abnormal’. They explained that the hospital gets about 70-80 cases referred from districts everyday, apart from patients who are brought to the hospital directly. Most of these referral cases are critically ill babies.

At present, BC Roy has 400 beds. A 30-bed unit sick neo-natal care unit was set up after the crib death incidents in July. Despite the expansion, not much has been achieved in controlling crib death. The state’s only referral hospital for children has been dogged by crib death from time to time, with 21 babies dying in 48 hours in July last year.

“It is mostly the babies brought from district hospitals who die here. Therefore, there is the need to upgrade facilities and improve services in peripheral hospitals,” said Dr MK Chatterjee, paediatrician and ex-principal of BC Roy hospital.

On Monday, the hospital authority met health officials, including director medical education Dr S K Bandyopadhyay, to report on the recent spate of baby deaths. Bandyopadhyay gave a clean chit to the hospital saying the infants were already in critical condition before being brought to the hospital.

“These babies were brought in serious condition from distant places. The health department is on way of upgrading childcare facilities in district hospitals so that these children need not travel such a long distance. At the same time, more medical staff is being recruited for BC Roy to haul up services,” the Bandyopadhyay said.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra said in a press meet in West Midnapore, “The government’s claim that child mortality rate has dropped 3% is baseless. The rate had seen a dip only during the Left rule.”

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