At least 30 children between the ages of 6 months to 2 years have died in the last 20 days in the biggest government run children's hospital in Allahabad.
And the figures may not surprise anyone. One visit to the 100-bedded hospital shows wards are overflowing with patients, with 2 to 3 children occupying a single bed. These deaths have blamed on poor facilities at the Sarojini Naidu Hospital.
"There are 2 to 3 children lying on each bed. We have to buy syringes from outside," confirms Manna Babu, a relative of one of the patient.
"If there are no beds, we have no choice but to wait with sick children outside, till the time one is available. No wonder children are dying," adds Dinesh Kumar, another patient's relative.
What also emerged through NDTV's visit to the hospital, is that despite the intense heat (Allahabad has recorded one of the highest temperatures this summer) fans and air conditioners of the hospital remain out of order. There is also no doctor who can work the ultrasound machine and the lone operation theatre of the hospital is locked up and not used for surgeries.
The hospital superintendent, Ruchi Rai claims that the children who died were brought to the hospital in a critical condition and had a very little chance of survival. "Most of these children were critical. Visitors also come and go without caring about hospital timings. Half of our time is wasted in handling the relatives of the patients, making it difficult to pay attention to the sick children" she says.
Alarmed by the death toll, the Allahabad high court has taken suo moto cognizance and issued notices to the hospital authorities, Director General Health Services and the Principal Health Secretary.
After that, when the Joint Director level officer of the health department, Abha Shirvastav carried out checks at the hospital, she admitted that the hospital was poorly managed and lacked basic facilities. According to her the medicine stock was inadequate and there was also a shortage of disposable items like syringes.
"We are trying to find out the record and see what caused the deaths. We need to know when the children were admitted and in what condition. If a child was brought in a serious condition then nothing could be done. But if there were lapses in the treatment, that is something we are trying to find out. There is a lot of suffocation in the wards because of overcrowding and the AC's don't work. Also it was teeming with visitors when they should not be allowed inside the wards," she said.
A departmental probe has also been ordered into the deaths.