The Gorakhpur tragedy and its aftermath

At Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College, life goes on

Baba Raghav Das Medical College   | Photo Credit: Amarnath Tewary

An uneasy calm prevailed at Baba Raghav Das Medical College, with police deployed at its every nook and cranny, officials and politicians visiting the campus in a cavalcade of SUVs, and doctors keeping mum over the deaths of 30 children reportedly due to shortage of oxygen. Patients, meanwhile, kept pouring in.

The hospital is like any other government hospital: relatives of patients could be seen sitting and sleeping in the corridors, occupying every available inch. On Saturday, no impact of the deaths was visible in the neonatal department as every bed, both in the general ward and Intensive Care Unit, was occupied with children suffering from symptoms of encephalitis: they wore oxygen masks. Their parents and relatives either slept or sat outside.

“What to do? We have no other option than coming to this government hospital. We cannot afford treatment outside,” Rameshwar Prasad from Kushinagar told The Hindu. Like him, others too have heard about the death of children in last two days in the same hospital, in the same ward, but felt “helpless” to go somewhere else. For poor people like them, this government hospital appears to be the last hope.

Doctors, nurses and ward boys have clearly been instructed not to speak to strangers. They kept mum on the deaths of the children. “You can see yourself whether any bed is vacant today. In fact, in the last 48 hours, we have not gone home for rest. Here the load on doctors is much higher than any other government hospital in the country,” a young doctor from Allahabad said, asking not to be named. He said that lack of oxygen could be one of the reasons for the deaths of children on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday. The ward plunged into complete darkness even as this doctor spoke to The Hindu. “Soon the generator will be on,” he said. The generator came on, after 12 minutes.

Children receiving treatment at Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur on August 12, 2017.

Children receiving treatment at Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur on August 12, 2017.   | Photo Credit: PTI


This hospital attracts patients even from neighbouring Bihar and Nepal. “You can see for yourself,” the doctor said, “the late evening train from Bihar brings maximum number of patients, especially children. Every year, from July to October, the number of encephalitis patients goes up. Last year the number of such patients was 427.”

Outside the ward, visitors, journalists and police personnel discussed the deaths of the children. A moment ago, the college principal was suspended for “laxity”, but soon afterwards, the principal, Dr. R.K. Mishra, issued a press release saying he had quit “owning moral responsibility of the deaths of 30 children.”

By the time dusk descended, visiting politicians and officials had left, so had the principal and many of the doctors. The police personnel relaxed. Normal life returned to the hospital.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 5:14:12 PM |

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