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The Bombay High Court on Wednesday, 4 October, took suo moto cognisance of the deaths of several patients in two government hospital in Maharashtra's Nanded and Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad).
Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor called for an urgent hearing and have asked state authorities to submit a report about the funds allocated for health.
What happened: At least 31 patients, including 15 adults and 16 newborn babies, died due to a “shortage of medicines” at the Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College Hospital in Maharashtra’s Nanded after they were unable to receive proper treatment, according to the kin of the victims.
A day after this, 18 patient deaths were reported at Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar's Government Medical College and Hospital within a span of 24 hours.
Dr SR Wakode, the Nanded hospital’s dean, told The Hindu that the Haffkine Institute, which supplies medicines to all state-run hospitals in Maharashtra, has curbed the supplies, due to which there aren’t enough medicines in the hospital.
The dean alleged that there was:
Shortage of medicines.
Lack of medical assistance provided to patients.
Not enough medical staff on duty.
Inadequate medical facilities.
Lack of appropriate funds to run the hospital.
Among those who died,
7 babies were just 2 days old
1 baby was 3 days old
1 baby was 4 days old
2 babies were just 1 day old
1 baby was 1.4 years old
According to a report accessed by FIT, the hospital authorities stated that the causes of death were respiratory distress syndrome, birth asphyxia, sepsis, diaphragmatic hernia, etc.
Action taken: A three-member committee has been formed and asked to submit a report by Tuesday afternoon, news agency PTI quoted Dr Dilip Mhaisekar, the director of medical education and research for Maharashtra, as saying.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde stated on Tuesday that “appropriate action” would be taken.
Maharashtra Medical Education Minister Hasan Mushrif too, told mediapersons that the government is taking stock of the deaths. News agency ANI, on the other hand, reported that the state cabinet might hold a meeting to discuss this on Tuesday.
Not the first incident: In August this year, at least 18 people died in a single night at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital in Thane’s Kalwa.
Opposition reaction: Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar took to microblogging site X (formerly Twitter) to say that this “unfortunate incident” is a “failure of the government system."
He alleged that this happened because the state government didn’t take a previous similar incident seriously.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Ashok Chavan, while offering his condolences to the kin of those who passed away, also alleged that the hospital was overburdened because around 1,200 patients were hospitalised when the hospital’s capacity was just 500 beds.
He said that the state government should disperse adequate funds and resources to the hospital.
Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena (UBT) faction also said:
“This is shameful, please don’t call them deaths, this is murder due to absolute negligence on the part of the unconstitutional state government.”