Hospital Deaths: UP CM Rules Out Oxygen Lack As Cause, Assures Stern Action

BY Edit Platter Desk | PUBLISHED: 13 August 2017

Lucknow: Rejecting reports that lack of oxygen supply was responsible for deaths of over 60 children in a government hospital in Gorakhpur in the last five days, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Saturday that a committee has been set up under the Chief Secretary to go into the gas supplier’s role and other lapses.

He and his Health Minister Siddharthnath Singh quoted figures of child deaths in August over a period of three years and after the BJP government came to power to claim that the deaths have occurred due to vector-borne diseases like Japanese Encephalitis highly prevalent in the region.

Flanked by Union Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel and the state Health and Medical Education Ministers at a press conference, Adityanath asserted that stringent action will be taken against those found guilty.

He and Siddharth Nath Singh contended that there has been no death due to lack of oxygen supply to Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital, but did concede there was a problem in supply of liquid oxygen for four hours on August 10 which was made up by the system switching to cylinders.

The Chief Minister also said that BRD College Principal Rajiv Mishra has already been suspended on grounds of negligence and administrative lapses relating to delayed payment to the gas supplier.

He said that a magisterial inquiry has already been ordered and the report will come soon, while the Committee headed by the Chief Secretary is expected to give its report in a week.

Adityanath requested the media to be responsible and only broadcast authentic death statistics.

“We are sensitive to each death in the hospital and will request you all to be careful about the facts and figures,” he said at a press conference here.

Expressing his sympathies to the bereaved families, Adityanath said that encephalitis was a big challenge for the state government as well as an emotional issue for him as he have been waging a war against it since 1998.

He also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had enquired about the situation and assured all central help. The Union Health Secretary was in Gorakhpur, he said, adding that Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda and his Minister of State were monitoring the situation as well.

Adityanath also said that during his review meeting in Gorakhpur on August 9, he had asked officials if there were any issues or they required any help from the government but was told that there were none.

The Chief Minister said that he himself had visited the BRD medical college on July 9 and August 9 to himself look at the situation but was not informed of any shortage, including of oxygen.

Meanwhile, citing figures, Siddharth Nath Singh said that 567 deaths occurred in August 2014 at a daily average of 19, 668 deaths in 2015 in the same month with a daily average of 22 and 587 deaths in August 2016 with a daily average of about 20, but the state government taken steps to improve health services in the last three months and there had been a reduction in fatalities.

“In August this year up to the 11, 133 deaths have occurred,” he said.

Also denying the shortage of oxygen or disruption of the central oxygen plant had lead to the deaths of children, including infants, he attributed the deaths to some being underweight, early delivery, sepsis, pneumonia and other infections. A few deaths, he added, happened due to encephalitis as well.

Medical Education Minister Ashutosh Tandon said pending payments of the vendor supplying oxygen were cleared on August 5 and funds sent to the BRD medical college, but it was “surprising” that Principal Rajeev Mishra did not release it till August 11.

The opposition tore into the Adityanath government over the deaths. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who visited the hospital along with the party’s state unit chief Raj Babbar said Adityanath should personally apologize for the tragedy.

The principal opposition in the state, Samajwadi Party (SP) questioned the Chief Minister’s silence in the aftermath of the children’s deaths in his parliamentary constituency and hometown, that has left the state stunned.

Samajwadi Party General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav said it was very unfortunate that Adityanath has not uttered a word on such a “heart wrenching” tragedy.

“Gorakhpur where the children have died in such large numbers is the Chief Minister’s constituency and hometown. He has been there several times after assuming the post. And in the past 24 hours he has sadly said nothing on the issue,” he said.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati also lashed out at the Adityanath government. She said the state government’s callousness led to the tragedy and called for a high-level probe into the incident.

Mayawati said a three-member fact finding team from her party will visit the medical college.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also questioned Adityanath’s silence. “First the callousness and now the shameless silence. It’s a pity that such indifferent people are ruling the state,” AAP spokesman Vaibhav Maheshwari said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has, however, hit back at the opposition, accusing it of “indulging in politics” on such a serious issue.

The medical college has been receiving massive funds from the state to tackle encephalitis, especially after Adityanath became the Chief Minister.

Attendants and family members of the patients admitted here, however, claim that despite the funds, there were neither doctors, nor proper treatment, adequate medicines or oxygen supply at the medical college.

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