State

1,528 deaths at Sishu Bhawan in 9 months

Cuttack, Oct 21: As many as 1,528 children have died at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Post Graduate Institute of Paediatrics (Sishu Bhawan) during the first nine months of this year, sources in the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) birth-death registration centre said.

According to CMC data, altogether 172 children died while being treated at the premier childcare health facility in January while the figure was 118 in February, 148 in March, 172 in April, 193 in May.

The deaths continued in June with the loss of lives of 138 children that month and the figures for the next three months were alarmingly close to 200 - 196 in July, 195 in August and 196 in September.

On an average, the monthly death figures hovered around 170 at Sishu Bhawan. Most of the deaths were attributed by the hospital authorities to infections and abnormalities after birth. 'Several children died in these months due to infections and post-birth disorders,' said the hospital superintendent Saroj Kumar Satpathy.

Two years ago, in August 2015, the state government drew flak from several quarters when at least 60 babies died at Sishu Bhawan. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan had then visited the hospital and blamed the state Health Department's 'callousness' for the child deaths.

Rattled by relentless criticisms, the state Health Department had prepared a blueprint after the 2015 deaths for improving healthcare at Sishu Bhawan. It had planned to construct a seven-storey building at the hospital to provide all health services under one roof. The state government had also planned to spend Rs 105 crore on the project. However, the project hasn't taken off.

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