NEW DELHI, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) — The local government in India’s northeastern state of Assam have ordered a probe into infant deaths at a government run medical college hospital, officials said Saturday.
At least 16 infants deaths were reported during the past nine days at Jorhat Medical College hospital in Jorhat district, about 296 km east of Dispur, the capital city of Assam.
“As many as 16 newborns died in the hospital between Nov. 1 and Nov. 9 at the hospital,” an official said. “The government has taken cognizance of the deaths and sent a high-level team to the hospital to probe the matter.”
Local health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters the team includes director of medical education and an official from UNICEF.
Reports said the deceased newborns had congenital diseases and some had very low birth weight.
Officials at Jorhat Medical College hospital deny any medical negligence.
“The deaths were reported at the special care newborn unit of the hospital,” Dr Saurav Borkakoti, superintendent of hospital said. “However owing to the number of patients coming to the hospital may sometimes be large and therefore the figure of death of newborns may also be large.”
Reports said the hospital remains overburdened much beyond its capacity.
As per the latest data from NITI Aayog (policy think tank of government of India) Assam has had the worst maternal mortality rate from 2004, with the state recording 237 deaths per 1000 live births in the 2014-2016 period, against the national average of 130. The infant mortality rate in Assam was last recorded at 44 in 2016, against the national average of 34.