Malda, West Bengal:
Four more infants have died in the last 24 hours at the Malda Medical College in West Bengal, taking the number of infant deaths there to 20 in less than a week. The four deaths come just after an observer team of the state health department inspected the hospital.
On Friday, reports suggested 15 infants died in just 48 hours at the hospital. The state government, however, maintained there were 11 deaths, a number no less shocking. Health authorities claimed the infants were brought to the hospital in very serious condition and deny any negligence.
Outside the hospital, anxious relatives await for any news by doctors. "We don't have any information about my baby and who is lying inside the hospital along with her mother. Even the doctors are not talking to us. We are helpless and waiting for the gates to open," said a man waiting outside the hospital.
"We are not getting any information. Whenever we are trying to go inside, they are are asking us to stand outside. If they open the gates, then only we are allowed to go inside otherwise they are not letting us in," he added.
"We cannot see anything good. If we are trying to enter, the nurses are not talking to us properly. They are saying if young men try to enter, they would file a complaint of baby theft," said another person waiting outside the hospital.
Last November, 26 infants died at the same hospital over a period of six days; an average 40,000 infants die every year in West Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday vowed to bring that rate down by 25 per cent.
The Malda infant deaths bring into sharp focus the disarray that healthcare is in in West Bengal. The traumatic birth of a little girl in Burdwan on Thursday is telling. The young mother Parvati, delivered at a roadside tea stall because when she went with labour pains to a Burdwan government hospital, doctors there told her to come back in a month. On the bus ride back home, Parvati went into full labour and a local doctor helped her deliver her baby at the tea stall. (Read