Fourth death in ten days at govt-run Asha Kiran

A fourth death in the past 10 days was reported at the government-run home for the mentally challenged, Asha Kiran, when a 47-year-old man died early on Wednesday. He had been at Asha Kiran for more than 27 years and was reported to be very "ill".

Officials said the man had been complaining of severe chest and abdomen pain for a week. He was admitted to BR Ambedkar hospital near Rithala Metro station. "His follow-up was going on. He started complaining of breathlessness at night and was taken to the hospital. He died around 6.30 am," Dr V N Agarwal, administrator of Asha Kiran, said.

On Monday, a 14-year-old boy died of hepatitis and last week, two girls aged 12 and 18 had succumbed to illness. They were all residents of the home.

Leelawati (45), who works as a caregiver at Asha Kiran, said the 47-year-old died in the "adult wing" and he had been "seriously ill" for days. "I would often hear other house-workers, from the adult wing, talk about his deteriorating health. His sickness could also have been a result of the extreme cold," Leelawati said.

Dr Agarwal claimed that all measures were taken to ensure that the residents of the shelter home did not suffer due to the cold. He said 10 doctors, 85-90 staff nurses and ambulances were available for its residents "round-the-clock". He said the staff is careful about switching on geysers, heaters, providing lukewarm drinking water, blankets and quilts on time.

Asha Kiran Complex was in news in 2009 and 2010 when almost 100 inmates died in two years due to negligence, lack of medical facilities and unhygienic conditions. Built for 350 patients, the complex provides shelter to more than 970 mentally challenged men, women and children.

Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Chairperson Kamala Lakhwani said: "Most people who come here are already carrying some disease. Plus, their life span is shorter than other healthy people. Both mentally challenged and mentally ill persons abandoned by their families stay here."

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