It reads like a ledger kept in Auschwitz or Birkenau or one of those other concentration camps you see in the movies. January, 152 dead. February, 122 dead. March, 159 dead… August, 325 dead. The first three days of September, 32 dead.
The spate of deaths in the state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College hospital in Gorakhpur continues with 13 more children dying in the past 48 hours.
And now, we have another such mass human destruction in Farrukhabad in the same state, under the same government, with the same story… 49 children dead in a month, ostensibly from a lack of oxygen. One so completely fails to understand this paucity and why it is so. And how could it happen again when the attention of the nation has been on this issue. Is there a health ministry in Uttar Pradesh or not?
Sure enough, an FIR has been filed against the administration which is fair but once again the Yogi Adityanath government per se is not in the dock. It plays prosecutor without even considering itself as the co-accused.
It is unconscionable that the stark tragedy should be repeated when the first one has not been resolved.
The death toll so far at BRD hospital is 1,317 with 13 children dying after the appointment of the new principal Dr PK Singh. At best, we have to conclude that whatever the cause or the toxicity within the confines of the pediatric ward maybe, it hasn't gone away.
Therefore, the arrest of Dr Kafeel Khan on Eid seems quite insensitive and as far as the grieving parents are concerned this amounts to cosmetically locking the stable doors well after the horses have galloped off. Actually, it is not even that appropriate a metaphor because by locking the doors you are keeping the threat alive.
At some stage, someone has to ask the question: When will the deaths stop? The way the listings are being made public and the general acceptance that children come to this hospital with a fair chance of never coming out alive is bizarre. There is no other hospital in India where so many children die so regularly and with such casual and unquestioning forbearance. I know Indians are deeply into kismet and karma but from the medical and ethical point of view, the situation in Gorakhpur is an obscenity.
By the same measure that has been used to arrest Dr Khan, and earlier the former BRD hospital principal Rajeev Misra and his wife Purnima, shouldn't there be some moral and actual responsibility for all these deaths by the government and the bureaucracy who have seemingly converted the hospital into a house of horror and seem quite blasé about it.
Surely state health minister Siddharth Nath Singh and his health secretary should shoulder some of the responsibility. The way things are going, the culpable have become the hunters and the government has washed its hands of this still rising casualty list.
Indeed, Adityanath should dismiss all those involved in keeping the deaths a secret from him during his visit on 9 July, when the sight of grieving mothers and fathers was presumed as offensive to the sensibilities of the chief minister, and they were ushered out from the back door. Enough to warrant a charge of complicity in manslaughter if not murder.
And while these delayed arrests are causing no great ripples, either as preventive measures or as a pursuit of justice, the cruel fact is that there is no transparency in the investigation of this medical travesty in Gorakhpur.
Neither media nor the public nor the ones who trek to these citadels of death know what causes all these deaths.
Is it the shortage of oxygen? The unending prevalence of encephalitis? Sheer medical malpractice? Mold or other poisonous substances in the pipes? A mix of all these and what not. No one is coming out with what exactly is going on. What is the 'killer' element that makes this facility more akin to a Stephen King plot than a place of healing.
These unanswered questions make the recent arrests suspect and more convenient than part of any grand exercise to end the deaths of those who have not yet begun to live.
Published Date: Sep 04, 2017 12:33 pm | Updated Date: Sep 04, 2017 12:33 pm