Three more newborns died at a state-run hospital in Rajasthan’s Kota city on Friday, bringing the number of such fatalities to 12 in the last two days at the facility, officials said. Nine newborns, all of them between one and four days old, died at the J K Lon Hospital on Thursday, within a span of hours, a year after the same facility had hit national headlines over the deaths of an unusual number of infants.
On Friday, three more newborns — two born just a day ago and another a month old — died at the hospital, said its Superintendent Suresh Chand Dulara. KotaBundi MP and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla called a meeting of district and medical officials at his office in Kota on Friday. He asked the officials about the reason behind the deaths and directed the authorities to improve the condition of the hospital so that no infant dies due to lack of facilities and timely medical treatment.
Expressing grief over the deaths, Birla stressed on proper monitoring in the hospital. “I have spoken to the hospital management and got a report on the matter. Whatever facts come out, I would discuss it with the state government," the MP told the media after the meeting.
Hospital Superintendent Dulara said a newly constructed 12-bed NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) level-3 ward, which was ready to go functional, was made operational on Friday with 10 nursing staff. Kota District Collector Ujjawal Rathore, who also attended the meeting, said some pieces of equipment at the hospital were certainly reported to be lying unused, but their number is “not considerable".
Such equipment would soon be replaced as there is no lack of budget, Rathore told media persons after the meeting. Asked about it, Dulara said the equipment are “not dysfunctional but beyond economic repair since 2018".
The Rajasthan government on Friday constituted a four-member committee to investigate deaths of the newborns at the hospital, officials said. According to state health minister Raghu Sharma, the committee, which includes Medical Education Commissioner Shivangi Swarnkar and other officials, will visit the J K Lon Hospital and investigate every case of infant death at the health facility.
In December 2019, over 100 infants died at the hospital, triggering a furore.