RAIPUR: With the death of three more new born children at Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS), Bilaspur, in the past 24 hours, the toll for such cases touched 14 in the past one-week. Incidentally, 25% (14) of the 56 new born babies admitted to the Neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital have died in the first week of December.

While TOI had reported the death of 11 new born babies on Dec 5, one infant died on Sunday and two others succumbed on Monday, taking their toll to 14. According to officials 12 of these dead children were referral cases and were not born in the hospital.

Talking to TOI, Dr SK Mohanty, Dean CIMS, while confirming 14 deaths, said only two children were born in the hospital and all others were referred in critical conditions. He said 56 children had been admitted to the Neonatal intensive care unit in the first week of December and 14 of them had died.

Claiming that the two “in-born” children had died due to normal birth related complications, Dr Mohanty said majority of the referral cases were of pre-mature births and were underweight. Denying any negligence on the parts of the doctors or the hospital Dr Mohanty said there was nothing “unusual” about these deaths as the infant mortality rate (IMR) in the state is quite high.

He said most of the referral cases were brought to the hospital in their “last stages” and could not be saved despite best efforts.

A senior doctor in the hospital told TOI on condition of anonymity that most of these deaths had occurred as due care was not taken during pregnancy. He said illiteracy and ignorance among the poor and tribals is the main cause of high IMR in the state.

According to data about 1.32 lakh children (6000 per 1 lakh) below the age of 5 years die in Chhattisgarh every year due to various ailments, including pneumonia and diarrhoea. There are about 22 lakh children (0-5) in the state.

According to WHO, the survival and health of new born babies is a critical part of the push towards lower child mortality in Millennium Development Goal 4, because a large portion of under-five deaths actually occur during the first month of life. Because many of these deaths are related to care at the time of birth, newborn health goes hand in hand with the health of mothers, Millennium Development Goal 5.

According to figures, new born deaths, which occur in the first four weeks of life (neonatal period), account for 41% of all child deaths below the age of five years. The share of such death has grown from 37% over the last decade, and is likely to increase further.

Doctors say that though the first week of life is the “riskiest” period for new born, authorities are yet not initiating postnatal care programmes to reach mothers and babies at this critical time.

Meanwhile state congress president, Bhupesh Baghel has accused the state government of gross negligence in the death of new born babies attributed them to malnutrition. In a statement issued here, Bhagel said these deaths, which come close on the heels of botched sterilisation tragedy, has completely exposed the state government’s health care. He said the government had failed to provide quality healthcare to the people and blamed rampant corruption in the state machinery for it.