110 deaths reported at BRD hospital from Sept 1 to 8; fatalities have fallen, claims govt

Hundred-and-ten infant deaths due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) have been recorded in the first eight days of this month in the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College Hospital, even as the Uttar Pradesh government has claimed an 8 per cent drop in fatalities due to this infection this year.

The hospital is the only one catering to a staggering six crore population who are exposed to Japanese Encephalitis and Scrub Typhus, the viral and bacterial strains that lead to AES, which is endemic in 19 districts of eastern UP and Bihar. The hospital has been the focus of media attention following the spurt in deaths owing to deficient oxygen supply on August 10-11.

The State government is claiming a drop in infection-related deaths and is de-linking 52 deaths — including 34 infants — from the discontinuation of oxygen supply on August 10. But the real tragedy here is the continuing fatalities due to infections that can be prevented and cured. According to hospital records, 110 deaths were recorded in BRD hospital during September 1-8. This includes 13 infants who died on September 1; 10 on September 2; 15 on September 3; 10 on September 4; 16 on September 5; 13 on September 6; 12 on September 7; and as many as 21 cases within 24 hours on September 8.

UP Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh asserted that AES cases have registered a “remarkable drop” this year because of the efforts of the government.

“There is an 8 per cent drop in AES cases coming to BRD Medical College. This is a phenomenal drop. In August, there were 325 deaths. It is unfortunate, but last year and the year before, there were 600-plus deaths in the same period,” the Minister told BusinessLine.

“The reason it has come down is that we have focussed on this issue because of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has been fighting it,” he added.

While the primary health centres (PHCs) and the community health centres (CHCs) here continue to face shortage of doctors, trained staff and nurses, the administration’s priority seems to be on denying any link between oxygen supply that was stopped to the BRD hospital at 7.30 pm on August 10 and the 52 deaths that occurred in the next 48 hours.

“The two are completely separate things. Yes, there was a lapse, for which people have gone to jail, but it has no link with the deaths that happened,” said the Minister.

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