Indian hospital being investigated over infant deaths

A second Indian hospital is being investigated after it was reported that dozens of infants had died from perinatal asphyxia

5 September 2017, 9:32am
Hundreds of deaths at Baba Raghav Das Hospital in August. Photo: Al Jazeera
Hundreds of deaths at Baba Raghav Das Hospital in August. Photo: Al Jazeera
Indian Police are in the process of investigating a second hospital in Uttar Pradesh state, where dozens of infants have died in the space of a month.

Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, in Farrukhabad, is the second of its kind to be investigated over infant deaths, many of which have been attributed to perinatal asphyxia, a condition caused by a reduced level of oxygen in infants just before, during or after delivery, depriving them of the ability to breathe freely.

Last month alone, at least 160 children were reported dead at another state-run institution in the city of Gorakhpur, Baba Raghav Das Hospital.

The Times of India reports that between July 21 and August 20, just under 50 children died at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, with at least 30 of those suspected to have died of perinatal asphyxia. 

According to the BBC, police conducting the investigation claim that the hospital “did not insert oxygen pipe [into the infants’ windpipes] after birth”. However, senior government officials have denied that deaths at both hospitals were caused by perinatal asphyxia. Some reports have suggested that a private supplier had cut the hospital’s oxygen supply over a dispute regarding unpaid bills. Parents and relatives reported having to operate the breathing apparatus by hand in order to save their children, the BBC said.

State and hospital officials said there was no oxygen shortage and are instead blaming the deaths on an uprising of infectious diseases, contracted during the monsoon season. According to the hospital, many children had been brought into the hospital already in critical conditions.

Hundreds of children die of varying diseases ever year in Uttar Pradesh, one of India's poorest states.