The Gorakhpur tragedy and its aftermath

Guilty will not be spared: U.P. CM

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda leave after visiting the Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur on August 13, 2017.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Two days after 30 children died in a 48-hour span at the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) medical college hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited the hospital’s encephalitis and paediatric wards along with Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda and ordered a high-level enquiry into the deaths.

“If anyone is found guilty, he would not be spared,” Mr. Adityanath, whose government faced increasing pressure over its handling of the incident, told a press conference at the BRD hospital.

Medical staff attend to a child admitted in the Encephalitis ward at the Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur on August 12, 2017.

Medical staff attend to a child admitted in the Encephalitis ward at the Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur on August 12, 2017.   | Photo Credit: AFP

 

At least 18 adults have also died in the past week, along with 63 children, many of whom were suffering from an encephalitis infection.

Fourth visit

“This is my fourth visit to this BRD hospital ever since I became the Chief Minister… I’ve been fighting against the AES (Acute Encephalitis Syndrome) since 1996-97 and who would understand this problem more than me,” Mr. Adityanath said, defending his government.

Meanwhile, a day after the Principal of the BRD college was suspended, the U.P. government suspended Dr. Kafeel Ahmad, who was the nodal officer of the paediatric ward. Dr. Ahmed had been at the hospital overnight on Friday during the crisis, triggered allegedly by the shortage of oxygen tanks and had reportedly personally paid for more tanks.

Criticising the action, the Indian Medical Association passed a resolution demanding that the government must disclose the cause of death within three days, in order to take preventive measures at other health facilities.

“The local administration is equally responsible for the deaths and action should be taken against it too,” IMA president K.K. Aggarwal told The Hindu.

 

A relative carries a dead child outside the Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur late on August 12, 2017.

A relative carries a dead child outside the Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur late on August 12, 2017.   | Photo Credit: AFP

 

However, the mystery over the oxygen shortages continued, as Mr. Adityanath said he had not been told about any problem the hospital was facing when he visited it earlier. “On July 9 and August 9, I’d visited the hospital and met with doctors and medical officials but was not apprised of any such problem of lack of oxygen”, he said.

According to the suppliers Pushpa Gas, against whom the Gorakhpur police have filed an FIR, they had sent several reminders to BRD authorities to pay dues of more than ₹ 68 lakh.

Asked whether the lack of liquid oxygen was the reason for the deaths of children suffering from encephalitis, Mr. Adityanath said, “let the report of the probe committee come and then it will be known what the reason was.”

(With inputs from Bindu Shajan Perappadan, agencies)

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 9:06:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-announces-85-crore-childrens-diseases-research-centre-at-gorakhpur/article19485953.ece

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