Gorakhpur hospital tragedy: Death toll jumps to 71; IMA appoints team of three for probe

Gorakhpur: Five more encephalitis-related child deaths were reported from the Baba Raghav Das Medical College hospital since Tuesday, taking to 71, the number of persons who have died of the disease since 7 August, officials said on Wednesday.

"As many as 14 fresh cases of encephalitis were admitted on 15-16 August. At present, there are 64 patients undergoing treatment in the hospital," the office of the additional director health said giving details.

File image of a doctor examining a child at the BRD hospital in Gorakhpur. PTI

File image of a doctor examining a child at the BRD hospital in Gorakhpur. PTI

With the five deaths reported since Tuesday, the toll since 7 August in the state-run hospital has risen to 71, according to officials.

Overall, since 1 January, as many as 144 encephalitis-related deaths have taken place in the hospital, they said.

In Lucknow, amid allegations that shortage of oxygen cylinders at the hospital had led to the deaths, UP health minister Siddharth Nath Singh said that loss of life due to such a reason was nothing less than a "heinous crime".

He, however, added that all aspects related to the deaths at the state-run BRD medical college hospital were being probed by a panel led by the UP chief secretary.

Those found guilty would be punished, Singh promised.

"Any death due to oxygen shortage is a heinous crime...Any laxity on this front is also a crime," the UP health minister told reporters.

Singh said that "on the basis of a primary inquiry", the action was taken against the principal of the college.

The deaths also led to a war of words between BJP and the Congress.

The Congress accused the Yogi Adityanath government of not accepting its responsibility on the issue. UP Congress chief Raj Babbar said that his party will fight till the victims get justice.

The BJP hit back accusing the Congress of playing politics over deaths. "The Congress is trying to exploit children's death for politics. This is ridiculous and shameless," BJP spokesman Rakesh Tripathi told reporters.

BSP chief Mayawati also targeted the government over the incident.

Meanwhile, UP health minister Singh said that a report had been sought from all the medical colleges and hospitals on the availability of oxygen or payment issues and added that everything had been found in order.

The minister said that hospitals and community health centers in the area were being provided all necessary facilities so that they are well equipped and patients do not have to run to the BRD medical college.

The Indian Medical Associatio (IMA) also appointed a team of three members to inquire int the death of nearly 70 children at a hospital in Utta Pradesh's Gorakhpur city.

The team has been directed to submit their report withi 48 hours, a statement by the IMA said.

The committee comprises KP Kushwaha and BB Gupta fro IMA, Gorakhpur, and Ashok Aggarwal NVP IMA, Allahabad.

It will look into various aspects like whether the incident was due to failure of oxygen system, why an alert wa not sounded in adavnce, why was the oxygen supply allowed to cease and what were the engineers doing during the period, the statement said.

The panel of doctors will ascertain if there was an medical negligence and if the deaths were avoidable, it added.

Nearly 70 children, including infants, have died at th state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College since 7 August due to various causes including encephalitis.

Many of the deaths were alleged to have been caused because of shortage of oxygen, a claim dismissed by the Uttar Pradesh government.

Updated Date: Aug 16, 2017 22:47 PM

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