Friday, May 18, 2012

Children of a lost God!

In any pediatric hospital anywhere in the world single death of an infant sends alarm bells and an automatic enquiry starts to pin point the causes to enable remedial measures. Imagine 359 infants dying in a matter of just four months! It is not only gross criminal negligence but rather mass murder. Some people have termed it genocide. Well, even if we call it genocide, it has not been perpetrated by a foreign power but by our own people! The height of callousness is the administrator saying nothing is wrong in the hospital and everything is working well. How can one administer a facility staying sometimes hundreds of kilometres away from it? Well, the responsibility does not end at the level of the administrator. It goes all the way up. The least that should have happened on moral grounds was for the health minister to submit his resignation. Not to speak of the western countries, if such an incident had taken place in any other state or even in any other developing country, the entire government itself would have been toppled. It is a pity that a single dog’s death in Kashmir starts alarm bells ringing from Srinagar to Delhi but the death of over 300 Kashmiri children due to criminal negligence has not even sent a ripple. If no one else, at least the Union Health Minister should have been himself at the hospital to look into this tragedy beyond belief. Have Kashmir’s new generations become so cheap and expendable? People deserve an answer and that too fast! As usual the government has ordered an enquiry. However, the enquiry has not to remain confined to the hospital infrastructure but has to go beyond. The moot point is why should so many infants die? It has been alleged that the hospital is short of equipment and staff. They have only 4 ventilators and need 34. But the question is why so many infants need ventilators? Are these all pre-maturely born infants? Why have so many infants developed breathing problems? Is their delivery in order? There is a possibility of some epidemic within the hospital premises. Some years back one of the hospitals had an epidemic of tetanus. Normally, in such an eventuality, the hospital needs to be totally burnt down but this thing does not happen in our part of the world. In any such eventuality, the enquiry needs to be conducted by a team of experts in the field including people responsible for infection control. Here it needs to be emphasized that the Indian government had been aiming to get the neo-natal mortality rate down from 60 per 1000 births to 30 per 1000 by the year 2000 itself. The rate has already been reduced 30 per 1000 births in many southern states. In the present case in Kashmir, the average works out to almost 3 deaths per day! It is not known as to what is the proportion in relation to births and total admissions in the hospital. This needs to be ascertained by a medical audit. It is reported that apart from lack of equipment and mismanagement the hospital does not have a blood bank most essential for such a tertiary facility. Another important aspect of the mismanagement of the hospital administration is that the entire burden of managing the services without any supervision is on the shoulders of junior interns while the senior consultants are busy with their private practice. There has been lot of dithering going on regarding banning of private practice by doctors working in government hospitals. This has happened in spite of court directions in the matter. The tragedy is as usual being taken hold by politicians of various hues and shades to grind their own axe. Kashmiris should be in mourning and should not get swayed by vested interests. It is a tragedy of immense proportions and needs unity from all sides to ensure tangible steps are taken by the government visibly to save our future generations. (Comments at:

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