Bilaspur: Chhattisgarh Health Minister Amar Agrawal, who has faced Opposition's ire since the sterilisation deaths in November, has given a clean chit to a government-run hospital where at least 13 infants, most of them reportedly born premature, died last week, evoking sharp reactions from the Congress party.
Reports, Tuesday, said that Health Minister's media in-charge Aalekh Verma issued a statement, which read, “Infants died at the Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) during the past week because they were weak as well as prematurely born, and were referred from different places of Bilaspur division.”
CIMS has experts to deal with different serious illness, the statement further said.
"The divisional collector and I investigated the infant deaths in Bilaspur. The doctors are not at fault and proper medical treatment was given to the infants," Agrawal also told reporters.
The death of 13 infants were reported almost a month after 13 women died in botched sterilisation operations in Bilaspur, who were also treated at the same hospital.
However, their families are devastated and blame the hospital staff for negligence.
"We were not allowed to see the infants while they were being treated. Only when my nephews died, we were able to see them," said a member of the affected family. Family members of a few new born babies, who died at the hospital, also staged a protest after which Bilaspur Collector Siddharth Komal Pardesi visited the hospital to take stock of the situation.
The main opposition party – Congress – has also strongly condemned the incident and demanded the state health minister's resignation.
"The health minister's claim is very surprising and insensitive. This is another reason why he should not remain the health minister," said Leader of Opposition TS Singhdeo. "There are 17 district hospitals... Why haven't infant deaths been reported from there, why only in Bilaspur?"
Chief Minister Raman Singh admitted the problem lies with the hospital, but said he was not considering the minister's resignation.
The doctors at the hospital, however, said that the infants died due to various reasons and most of them were born premature as well as underweight.
"All infants were admitted in extremely critical conditions from nearby villages of Bilaspur at CIMS. Our doctors tried their best to save their life. Most of them were born underweight and premature," CIMS Bilaspur's Deputy Medical Superintendent Lakhan Singh said here today.
Twelve more infants who are in a critical condition are undergoing treatment at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital, he said.
CIMS Medical Superintendent Ramesh Murty denied any negligence on the part of the hospital or doctors for the deaths.
"The new born babies died due to various reasons," Murty said, ruling out casualties as a result of hospital borne infections or any specific injections or drugs administered.
The condition of the NICU is completely good and it is properly disinfected and sterilised regularly, he said. However, he also said that the hospital is closely looking into the matter and making inquiries into it.