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18 infants die every day in Gujarat hospitals raising questions on healthcare system

Health18 infants die every day in Gujarat hospitals raising questions on healthcare system

The state legislative assembly was informed that 13, 400 infants have died in 2 years in Gujarati Special Newborn Care Units, 18 infants die in a day! (more than 12 per cent of the total 1.06 lakh infants admitted).   Recently at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, 18 newborn babies died  in a span of 3 days spurring up widespread anger and raising questions on the healthcare system.  This has forced the state health department to order a probe.

The maximum deaths were reported in Ahmedabad district (3,134), followed by Vadodara (1,975 infant deaths) and Rajkot (1,834 infant deaths).  No deaths were reported from SNCUs in Devbhoomi Dwarka, Aravalli, Mahisagar, Botad, and Anand districts. The government also said that free medicine and treatment are provided at all SNCUs.

The government states that they are keeping a count of the infant deaths at SNCUs through special equipment provided to the hospitals and giving special training to doctors and nurses managing the SNCUs.  The government said that it prioritizes in filling up vacancies in these units.

The SNCUs is normally a separate unit at a district hospital which is in close proximity to a labor and delivery room managed round-the-clock by trained doctors, staff nurses, and support staff.

Answering the written questions made by Congress legislators, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel in charge of the health portfolio gave the figure of deaths and also answered series of other questions, IANS reported. Out of the total newborns admitted in the Sick Newborn Care units, 69,314 were transferred from government hospitals, while 38,561 (36.37 percent) from private hospitals. The maximum number of deaths of newborns (around 18 percent) occurred in Rajkot, the native place of the Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the majority of newborn deaths take place in low and middle-income countries.  India topped the list of 10 countries with the highest number of newborn deaths in 2019.

The highest neonatal mortality rate was recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2019 at 27 deaths per 1,000 live births. Central and Southern Asia followed with 24 deaths per 1,000 live births.

States which are not financially prosperous, under the ‘special category’, such as Himachal Pradesh with infant mortality rate at 28, Jammu and Kashmir at 26, Sikkim at 18, Nagaland low at 12, and Tripura at 20, far lower than Gujarat, doing far better.

Gujarat has done very poorly in reducing its infant mortality rate (IMR), neonatal mortality rate (NMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) especially in recent years with the IMR at 33 in 2015, where in Maharashtra with its explosive population is at 21 and Punjab at 23.

The IMR is calculated as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age. The rate for a given region is the number of children dying under one year of age, divided by the number of live births during the year and multiplied by 1,000.

Under Dr. Manmohan Singh (Congress), the JSSK (Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram) to benefit more than 12 million pregnant women with access to Government health facilities for their delivery was launched by the Centre in June 2011 to provide free health facilities to pregnant women and sick newborns. The main objective of the JSSK was to reduce the MMR, NMR, and IMR in the state.

Through detailed studies, a CAG report has also found that Gujarat’s primary healthcare service was dysfunctional. Per operational guidelines, the Gujarat government should have started 50% of primary health centers as 24×7 health centers by 2010 to give 24-hour delivery and newborn care. Primary health care should have been stationed closer to homes, dwelling areas to facilitate emergency obstetric and child health services easily and help in delivery.

It was discovered that even up to August 2016, the Gujarat government had operationalized only 323 out of 1,334 primary health care services, or 24%, as 24×7 health centers. The government has also failed to equip 344 primary health care services as 24×7 PHCs six years after the given deadline, as per the CAG audit.

With such shortages, failings, and misendeavours, the death toll of infants in Gujarat is rising, hospitals are mismanaged, and thus a probe is underway



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