Govt action has little effect on crib deaths

State lagging behind in upgrading referral centres, say experts

An internal report of the health department shows an average of 15 deaths for every 100 neonatal admissions at various state-run hospitals in the past one month.

This despite the task force set up to monitor crib deaths in the state, along with introduction of 22 sick new born care units (SNCUs).

The crib deaths registered at Dr BC Roy Memorial Hospital for Children in Malda and MR Bangur Hospital in Kolkata are among the highest, the report says.

The infant mortality rate in West Bengal stands at 50-52 per thousand births —- higher than the national figure of 47 per thousand births.

From June to December 2011, 9,942 crib deaths occurred in state-run hospitals, while from January to August 2012, around 10,000 crib deaths occurred. Experts said the deaths would increase if the referral system is not strengthened.

At Dr BC Roy Memorial Hospital, a total of 15 children died out of 100 admissions in August, while at Malda Medical College and Hospital, around 12 children died out of a total admission of around 150 neonatals. At MR Bangur Hospital, the number of crib deaths in August was around 15, with a total admission of 100 children. In the rest of the medical colleges and district hospitals, crib deaths varied between 8-10 deaths per day out of total admission of around 50 children.

Senior officials of the health department said that though the state government had made efforts to upgrade hospital infrastructure by setting up more sick new born care units, the area where it is lagging behind is upgrade of referral centres — ie. block primary health care centres and primary health care centres.

The report mentions that at Dr BC Roy Memorial Hospital for Children, most of the dead neo-natals last month were shifted from block primary health care centres of Nadia, North and South Dinajpur, West Midnapore, Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia. At MR Bangur, most of the neo natals who died had been shifted from Baruipur and Diamond Harbour block primary health care centres, while at Malda Medical College and Hospital, babies from Chanchol and Kaliachak villages died.

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