Infant deaths return

Malda 13 die in last 48 hrs, doctors blame it on poor infrastructure.

The crib deaths returned to the state government with 13 more infants dying in the last 48 hours at Malda Medical College and Hospital.

Senior officials of the state Health Department said six newborns died between Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday night, three babies died, while on Monday and Tuesday, a total of around 13 babies died. Babies were aged between 0-1 year.

Hospital authorities said that most of the babies died due to low birth weight and birth asphyxia (breathing trouble). They said eight babies were from neighbouring Bihar and Jharkhand, and six of them died even before being admitted to the hospital.

Health officials added that the inflow of patients at the district hospital has increased considerably, though infrastructure improvement has not been much. The neo-natal ward has not been revamped yet, though a proposal was made by the Health Department a month ago. Also, the sick newborn care unit (SNCU) is filled to capacity and because of lack of space, babies have to be kept on the floors. Inadequate number of Ryles' tubes and radiant warmers has added to the crisis.

It was found that most people rush to Malda District Hospital since it has been converted to a medical college. They hardly opt for sub-divisional hospitals like Chanchol and Kaliachak and Sinampur sub-centre as they lack proper critical-care facilities.

Officials, however, added that unless primary- and secondary-level health care units are revamped, crib deaths will continue. The need of the hour is to improve infrastructure at sub-divisional and district hospitals also by setting up sick newborn care units, they added.

Dr Uchal Bhadra, principal of Malda Medical College and Hospital, said all the babies who died were brought in critical condition, adding that they have been struggling to provide treatment to all with the limited infrastructure. There is need for around 100 Ryle's Tubes, which the hospital has asked the state Health Department for.

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