The Gujarat government on Sunday announced a committee to probe into the circumstances and causes of death of 18 infants in last three days. Amid the protests by the Opposition that sought resignation of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Health Minister Shankar Chaudhary, the state government announced a three-member inquiry committee to look into the incident and inquire into the reasons for the deaths and also pre-emptive measures to avoid a repeat. Hospital authorities said that most of the deaths took place as the children were underweight, and added that many were referred from private hospitals, reported the Indian Express. As many as nine children died on Saturday, between 6 am and noon, as per the report. Of the 18 infants who died, nine were referred from other hospitals, the rest were directly admitted to the civil hospital.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani while speaking with the media on the incident yesterday, said, “We have formed a committee to take steps, if there is any negligence in service that has resulted in the deaths of children. The committee’s report will come soon. According to the information I have gathered, no child has died for lack of medicine, lack of treatment or any facility in the hospital. But, since nine children have died in a day (on Saturday), the state government has considered it serious and appointed the inquiry committee. Since last night, we have sent top health officials, the health secretary and health commissioner to the hospital.”
As per the report, Dr. M M Prabhakar, the hospital superintendent vehemently denied any such death until late Saturday evening. But later admitted that they had occurred. Dr Prabhakar was quoted as saying that four babies born in the Civil Hospital died of lethal complications such as birth asphyxia and meconium aspiration. He added that the average number of deaths of newborns in the hospital was around five to six per day, and hence nine deaths in day was “only slightly more”.