“The government is responsible for the deaths of these children”, he said.
Rajeev Rautela, Gorakhpur District Magistrate denies that the incident was caused due to lack of oxygen supply. Most of the parents and relatives of children were queued outside ward nos 100, which is encephalitis ward at BRD medical college.
“There were children who were admitted in natal ICUs and there were deaths due to AES [Acute Encephalitis Syndrome] and some were non encephalitis-related deaths”, the state’s Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh told the India Today news channel. Successive governments have faced criticism for not reforming the overburdened public health system which is still plagued with shortage of doctors and dilapidated infrastructure.
A report claims that the there was frequent disruption of oxygen supply to the patients for an entire night.
Terming the death of so many children in a day as “shocking”, he said that the UP government was a “sensitive government” and was not trying to play down the report of the death of 23 children in a day (on 10 August).
Siddharth Nath Singh, the health minister of UP, said: “The death of children is very unfortunate and the government will set up an inquiry committee to ascertain if any lapse has occurred”.
The region is one the poorest in India and records hundreds of deaths of children due to diseases, including encephalitis, every year.
BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadouria said the chief minister neglected the health sector completely and did not pay attention towards the issue of health and malnutrition. He claims that only seven deaths have been reported and those were due to some other medical reasons.
After digging deeper, it turns out that a total number of 60 deaths have occurred in the past 5 days.
In more embarrassment for the state government, it has come to light that the staff of the Central Oxygen Pipeline Plant had written to the head of the paediatrics department of the hospital warning them of dwindling oxygen stock.