Twenty-four patients, including 12 newborns, have lost their lives in the last 24 hours at Dr. Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Nanded town, allegedly due to lack of medicines and medical help.
The incident, which follows closely on the heels of a similar incident in Thane, where 18 patients died in a single night, has once again raised serious concerns about the State’s health infrastructure.
The deaths are attributed to a shortage of medicines and medical assistance, exacerbated by inadequate healthcare facilities and a lack of medical staff and sudden influx of patients from neighbouring districts of Parbhani, Hingoli and Yavatmal.
Attempting to downplay the severity of the situation, hospital dean Dr. S.R. Wakode claimed that many of the deceased were outpatients who were brought to the hospital in a critical condition.
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“Six male and six female newborns died in the last 24 hours… 12 adults because of snake bites and other ailments. Due to recent transfer of staff there was shortage of manpower at the hospital, which was difficult for us to manage due to sudden surge in patients,” he said.
Dr. Wakode also revealed that the Haffkine Institute, responsible for the procurement of medicines all across Maharashtra, stopped the supply of medicines to all State-run hospitals which has also added to the difficulty for the authorities. “But, we tried to manage and buy the medicines locally, but it was not enough. Since this is the only major hospital in the radius of 60-70 km, we are under a severe load and our sanctioned budget is not enough to buy medicines locally,” he said.
Family members of the deceased alleged that a lack of medical facilities and inadequate treatment led to the deaths. “My newborn was not treated well and clearly there is lack of doctors and medical facilities here. The hospital is responsible for the deaths,” said a family member of one of the deceased.
Local sources indicate that condition of about 70 more patients admitted to the hospital remain critical. Speaking to The Hindu, a senior leader from the current dispensation said a committee would be constituted to carry out a probe into the clinical aspects of the deaths.
Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Congress leader, Ashok Chavan visited the spot and reiterated the allegations.
“The hospital’s capacity is 500, but currently more than 1,200 patients are admitted. I will speak to [Deputy Chief Minister] Ajit Pawar and the government should take control over the situation,” he said.
CM promises action
When asked about the incident, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said he would seek more information about the deaths and appropriate action would be taken.
Condemning the incident, Nationalist Congress Party national president Supriya Sule held the “triple engine sarkar” responsible for the tragic loss of 24 innocent lives. “These deaths are certainly not coincidental. Each of these fatalities requires a thorough investigation,” she asserted. “There is a cover-up happening here. Due to the shortage of medicines in the hospital, it is alleged that patients did not receive timely treatment. Does this mean that the lives of Maharashtra’s citizens have become so expendable? This is a case of delay and negligence, and stringent action is warranted.”
Ms. Sule called on Chief Minister Shinde to intervene immediately, secure the resignation of the responsible ministers, and ensure compensation for the families of the deceased. She extended her condolences to the affected families.