Terming the case a serious violation of the right to life of patients, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government over the deaths of dozens of children and others at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College hospital in Gorakhpur, even as 41 children died since Saturday. With the fresh spurt in fatalities, the death toll shot up to 104 in the past week.
Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports, the NHRC asked the U.P. Chief Secretary for a detailed report within four weeks.
Details of action sought
The NHRC also asked for the steps taken for the families of the victims and the action taken against officials responsible for the deaths.
A total of 63 patients admitted to the intensive care unit of the government-run facility died in a span of days, reportedly because of the oxygen supply being stopped due to pending payments to the supplier.
Thirty of the deaths took place over 48 hours on August 10 and 11. The government has maintained that the children died due to different illnesses, including Japanese encephalitis (JE).
Acting Principal of the hospital Dr. P.K. Singh said that 12 children succumbed to JE on Saturday, 13 on Sunday and 16 by 9 p.m. on Monday. “The full report for the day will be available only after midnight,” said Dr. Singh. “We see these many cases every year at this time. The deaths are actually in keeping with the corresponding figures from last year,” he added.
The NHRC said the incidents pointed towards “gross callousness on the part of the hospital administration and the Medical Education and Health Department of the Government of Uttar Pradesh.” It observed that it had taken up the issue of deaths caused by JE with the Chief Secretary during an open hearing and camp sitting conducted in Lucknow on August 9-11.
“However, in spite of the assurance given by the State administration, the situation has not improved,” the NHRC said.
As reported earlier, the private company providing liquid oxygen to the medical college hospital stopped supply as an outstanding bill of ₹70 lakh had not been cleared. After the deaths, a magisterial inquiry was ordered to find the cause.