A total of THIRTY children died in a state-run hospital in Calcutta over a period of 3 days in the first week of September this year. Doctors in the hospital and the state health minister dismissed this unusually high number of deaths as ‘routine’ refusing to take any responsibility for the deaths. An inquiry into the incident found that extreme overcrowding, understaffing and lack of medical equipment such as gas cylinders were responsible for the death of 30 children. The state government has now admitted that there was ‘some lapse’ on the part of the government and the described the deaths as ‘unfortunate’.
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For poor families who cannot afford the high prices of private hospitals, state-run hospitals are the only source of medical treatment. Parents accuse the government of not providing adequate medical infrastructure in spite of being aware of the poor health and unhygienic conditions in state run hospitals. In spite of media attention on the recent incident, little has changed in the hospital and little has changed in the lives of poor families who continue to go to the hospital.
However, this is not an isolated incident of deaths in state run hospitals in India. In 2001, 11 children allegedly died in a state run hospital in Uttar Pradesh due to a lack of oxygen cylinders. Such negligence and lack of basic amenities in India’s state run hospitals have caused the lives of many children.
2) SUGGESTED ACTION
Write to the Union Health Minister, the Chief Minister and the State Health Minister of West Bengal.
Dear Chief Minister / Dear Minister of Health,
I am writing to you with regards to the deaths of thirty children in a state run Hospital in Calcutta. It is evident from media and investigative reports that these deaths were a result of a lack of basic facilities in the hospital. This reflects a shameful negligence on the part of your government of not providing adequate equipment and staff in spite of being well aware of the conditions in the hospital.
It is also pitiful that neither the union nor the state health ministries have spoken about compensating the loss faced by poor families as a result of state negligence.
I urge you to not only take responsibility for the recent deaths of 30 children and compensate the families but also to improve the conditions in state run hospitals and prevent reoccurrences of this kind.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS OF APPEAL TO
1) Shri Shatrugan Sinha
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare
Government of India
2) Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharya
Chief Minister of West Bengal
Govt. of West Bengal,
Kolkata - 700 001, India
Tel : 91-33-2215588
Fax : 91-33-2215480
3)Shri Surya Kanta Mishra
Minister-In-Charge, Health and Family Welfare,
Government of West Bengal
Send a copy of appeal to firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on 2002-11-27