Taj blames cold for infant deaths

DAK castigates government 

SRINAGAR: Minster for medical education Taj Mohi-ud Din Friday blamed cold weather for infant deaths reported at the major maternal and chiidren hospitals of the Valley. 

Rejecting reports about official negligence Taj said, “The winter is the main reason for the infant deaths in valley and the babies being brought from far flung areas are already involved in several diseases till they reach the hospitals.”

Meanwhile Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Shailender Kumar Friday called a meeting of senior health officials to discuss the spike in neonatal deaths at government-run Lal Ded and GB Pant hospitals, where 131 neonate deaths have been reported in just 44 days.

Taj, however, said that the valley hospitals were fully equipped with the latest technologies and that the doctors there never show any neglect during the treatment. “I am proud of the hospitals we have in valley and I am sure that there is no negligence on part of the hospital staff.”

“The reality is that presently the babies being brought to the hospitals are already involved in several diseases including pneumonia and other chest diseases,” he said, adding that the absence of proper heating system in the far off villages is becoming the main reason for the infant deaths.

The Congress minister stated that the babies admitted in the hospitals are generally two or three days old and that the chilling winter already affects them at large. “We have done the proper research that reveals that the chili-a-kalan is the main reason for babies getting involved in the chest disease and the deaths become natural.”

“The doctors take extra care during these situations but they need prayers more than medicines,” Taj said. Denying the reports that the hospitals do not have the proper heating facilities, he stated that the special teams have been deputed to make sure that the hospitals do not show any negligence in providing basic facilities to the patients at large. 

Describing the situation as alarming, President, Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK)  Dr Nisar ul Hassan on Friday blamed government for infant deaths. 

“This is shocking and infuriating that despite public uproar over infant deaths in 2010, government has failed to control infant mortality. This huge increase in infant deaths is beyond doubt because of poor health care delivery system.”

According to a statement here, Dr Hassan said the common cause of infant mortality was birth asphyxia and neonatal sepsis. “These are because of unhygienic deliveries by unqualified persons at peripheral health centers. The deliveries are conducted by Dais and sweepers in peripheral health centers which is criminal. In peripheries there is mushrooming of unregistered private clinics run by quakes who conduct deliveries in extremely inhuman conditions. Even in this modern era most of the deliveries are conducted at home resulting in infant deaths.”

DAK said that the established Sick Neonatal Care Units (SNCU’s) in district hospitals was an eye wash because they lack infrastructure like proper oxygen delivery system, proper heating and ventilators. “These SNCU’s are run by unqualified doctors so putting fragile neonates to risk. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of LD hospital, the sole tertiary care maternity center, lacks gadgetry and skilled doctors which was the cause of increase in mortality of neonates at ld hospital.”

He said the delay in transportation of sick neonates from peripheries to GB Panth hospital was another major cause of neonatal deaths. “It is the timely intervention of these sick neonates that can save their lives and with delayed transportation the golden time is wasted resulting in infant deaths.”

Dr Hassan added that the “historical blunder” of politicians and policymakers to keep LD hospital and GB Panth hospital at a distance has resulted in huge number of infant deaths while in transit.

Infant deaths in Kashmir are iatrogenic and government should be hold responsible and accountable for not improving the health care delivery system, he said.

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