Jamshedpur's MGM Hospital Blames Malnutrition After Over 100 Infants Die in Two Months

While a probe into the deaths has not found negligence on part of the government-run facility, medical staff has alleged serious lapses in infant care.

New Delhi: After Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College came under the spotlight over the deaths of more than 70 children after oxygen supply was cut off at the hospital, over 100 infants – including newborns – have reportedly died at a government-run hospital in Jharkhand in a matter of just two months.

Over 52 of these newborn deaths at Jamshedpur’s Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Medical College and Hospital have occurred in the past 30 days. According to The Telegraph, while a state-level inquiry into the high mortality did not find any negligence at the part of the hospital, it has been indicated by the medical staff that infant care is far from satisfactory.

Barely four of the six incubators at the hospital – which boasts neonatal and postnatal intensive care – are functional. Each incubator is meant for a single premature baby or an abnormally small and underweight newborn. At the MGM Hospital, however, as many as three babies are kept in the same incubator. “This increases the chance of infections manifold and can even cause the death of a newborn,” a member of the medical staff told The Telegraph. Yet another source revealed that only two of the six ventilators in the paediatric department were in working condition.

In July, according to hospital records, of the 546 infants admitted, 60 had died. So far in August, the death toll stands at 41, including 33 newborns. Even as the Jharkhand Human Rights Conference demanded a probe into the matter, a four-member team arrived at the MGM Hospital on August 25. The team, however, stopped short of blaming the hospital for negligence, instead saying malnutrition was the major cause of the deaths. “Most of the infants died because of malnutrition. They were admitted to MGM after their births in other hospitals in Kolhan like Chaibasa and Seraikela, and also in Bengal and Odisha,” said K.M. Munda, a civil surgeon who was part of the probe team, which also categorically ruled out lack of oxygen supply as a cause.

MGM Hospital superintendent Bhartendu Bhushan on the other hand said that a large number of newborns with postnatal complications were admitted to the hospital last month, of which 12 were born at the facility. He further stressed that most of the 60 babies that had died were underweight. “They died due to postnatal complications as well as malnutrition while the remaining 48 were referred cases,” he said.

While the Jharkhand Human Rights Conference has demanded a CBI or judicial probe into the matter, Ajoy Kumar, a former Jamshedpur MP and national Congress spokesperson said, “The government, besides the hospital, should be held responsible for these deaths even if they took place because of malnutrition.”

(With agency inputs)

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