11 infants have died in Malda district while 17 died in Bankura district in the past four days

Crib deaths have returned to haunt at least two state-run hospitals in two different districts of West Bengal.

While 11 infants have died over the past 48 hours at Malda Medical College and Hospital in Malda district, 17 babies have died over the past four days at Bankura Sammilani Medical College and Hospital in Bankura district, the authorities said on Friday.

“All the children who died at the hospital were less than a year old and many were born with a low birth weight. In the past 24 hours, seven infants have died at the hospital,” M.A. Rashid, medical superintendent of Malda hospital, told The Hindu over the phone. The 11 dead includes a triplet born to a woman from the district on Thursday night he said. All the three babies who died within hours of the delivery were less than 1.5 kg.

Superintendent of Bankura Sammilani Hospital, Panchanand Kundu, said most of the 17 infants who died there since Tuesday were pre-mature and weighed less than 1.5 kg.

Dr. Rashid said the deaths had increased because many children were brought to the hospital in critical condition.

“Five days ago not a single baby had died at the hospital after which there was only a single death,” he pointed out.

According to the hospital authorities, every day they receive about 100 children not only from the districts of West Bengal but also from the adjoining States of Bihar and Jharkhand.

The district hospital, upgraded to a medical college in 2011, has two neo-natal units and a sick newborn care unit and can accommodate not more than 100 children, he said.

Union Minister of State for Health Abu Hashem Khan Choudhury, who visited the hospital during the day, blamed the State government for the inadequate health care facilities in state-run hospitals that are resulting in deaths of infants.

He also alleged poor utilisation of funds of the National Rural Health Mission for the influx of the large number of patients to the medical college and hospital.

“If the funds were properly utilised all the ailing children would not be required to be brought to the hospital,” Mr. Choudhury added.

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