Over 100 children have died due to acute encephalitis in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and at least 500 patients, many of whom are below the age of 10, have been admitted for treatment in hospitals since the beginning of June.
It's not that India is not improving when it comes to healthcare facilities. We have recorded excellent improvement as compared to the past in states like Odisha, Kerala, Haryana and Rajasthan. Recent reports by the Niti Aayog also points towards this.
But frequent deaths in public hospitals owing to medical negligence and lack of equipment show that there's still a long way to go.
1. In 2017, 63 children died at Gorakhpur's largest public hospital over 5 days due to disruption of oxygen supply.
Acute Encephalitis Syndrome was once again the cause of children's deaths at Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur. Most of the casualties were newborns. Reports suggest that the government did not pay the dues of the vendors who supply liquid oxygen to the hospital.
2. In June 2017, 17 patients, including 2 children died at the government-run Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital in Indore after the oxygen supply was cut.
While the family members of the deceased claimed that the oxygen supply of the hospital had been cut off for around 15 minutes in the night, the hospital authorities denied these claims calling the deaths 'natural'. They did not share any information with the media regarding the oxygen supply records and the staff responsible for it.
3. In September 2018, 15 patients died and more than 30 surgeries had to be postponed at Bihar’s largest government-run hospital due to lack of medical attention.
Junior doctors at Patna Medical College and Hospital in Bihar went on a strike after being attacked by a patient's relatives. Following this, widespread negligence was reported by the hospital staff which led to the death of many patients.
4. In October 2016, 41 children died at the Malkangiri district hospital because the facility did not have enough machines for CT scan and MRI, or even a ventilator.
When encephalitis swept across the tribal-dominated Malkangiri district in Odisha, the infected children were shifted to the district hospital from the community health centres. But the hospital lacked basic equipment which led to delay in treatment.
5. In March 2011, 16 women died at Umaid Hospital in Jodhpur, due to severe medical negligence after contaminated intravenous fluid was used during and after delivery.
Of the 16 women who died at the Umaid Hospital over a period of three weeks, 15 died after delivering babies. In each of these cases, the patients allegedly went through excessive bleeding.
6. In May 2016, 9 infants died at the largest government-run hospital in Ajmer, Rajasthan due to alleged medical negligence.
9 infants who were undergoing treatment at the ICU of JLN Hospital in Ajmer, died over a few days. The families of the infants alleged medical negligence on the part of the medical staff. An official probe was also ordered into the matter.
7. In December 2014, at least 13 infants died at the state government-run Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) in Bilaspur district in one week due to alleged mismanagement and medical negligence.
While the hospital authorities claimed that the infants died because they were born premature and were underweight, their families alleged medical negligence.
8. In September 2011, at least 11 infants lost their lives at the Government General Hospital in Kurnool within two days allegedly due to a defective oxygen supply system.
Reports suggested that the pipeline which supplies oxygen to the neonatal ward was not working properly and the hospital administration was negligent towards it. And the families of the deceased babies blamed a defective oxygen supply for their deaths.
Last year itself several patients died at the hospital because wrong treatment was meted out to them due to mix up of medical records. The hospital has no facility to maintain digital records of the patients.
A noteworthy point here is that most of these hospitals are the only healthcare facilities in the city which are affordable for the poor.
Ordering a probe into these deaths is the maximum governments have been doing, but what is important is to provide healthcare services to the needy patients immediately.