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Gorakhpur: 7 deaths a day 'normal', says UP govt, ignoring there were 23

UP govt insists deaths unrelated to oxygen shortage, yet to explain why 23 children died on Aug 10

Anoo Bhuyan | The Wire 

An inside view of a ward of BRD Hospital in Gorakhpur on Friday where at least 30 children died since the past two days, allegedly due to oxygen supply cut. Photo: PTI

Faced with outrage at the number of deaths at a Gorakhpur hospital in the last few days, the government of now says that the death of 60 in five days is not an abnormal figure. “Seven deaths on average per day in this is normal. This is, after all, a major in Gorakhpur, so obviously, people from all over, and from the primary centres, land here on referrals. Hence numbers of deaths are normally at this range,” said state health minister and government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh to The Wire.

Following a blitz of news reports yesterday, beginning in the Hindi press, that 30 with encephalitis had died in two days due to the lack of at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital, the Twitter handle of the government of flatly said last night that the news reports were simply untrue. The government did not further clarify what the causes for death were.

What is yet to be clear is even if seven is the average number of deaths, why did 23 die on August 10 at the

“The reports about the causes of death are not true and we will conduct a magisterial inquiry, with a report in 24 hours,” said Singh on his way to Gorakhpur. Singh was expected to be at a function in Allahabad with chief minister Adityanath today, but the function has been reportedly cancelled as officials now converge in Gorakhpur instead. Adityanath had visited the on August 9, a day when nine had died.

Two days of chaos as ran out

Even as the government has assured a quick magisterial inquiry, Rajeev Rautela, the district magistrate of Gorakhpur, had already submitted a report on August about the shortage of in the BRD August 10 was the day ran out in the and was also the day the saw a spurt in deaths, with 23 dying.

Rautela’s report is a brief one, but describes two days of chaos in BRD on August 10 and 11 when the supply ran out and the local administration began an urgent, all-night process to source from two private suppliers. “On 10 August at 7.30pm, liquid pressure went down and so we used 52 reserve cylinders to keep operations running,” began the report.

After that the report goes on to describe the two frantic days to keep going. After midnight on August 11, the had somehow managed to source 50 cylinders from a company called IGL in Faizabad. They came by 1:30 am. Another tranche of cylinders from the same company came a few hours later. A batch of 22 cylinders and another batch of 36 cylinders later came from Modi Pharma, a Gorakhpur-based company. A hundred empty cylinders from the were also sent to Modi Pharma. The district magistrate’s report ended with a hope that 100 more cylinders were expected from IGL soon. “This is how we managed the arrangement of for the patients,” said the report in conclusion.

UP police inside the BRD Hospital for the investigation into the death. Credit: PTI

police inside the BRD for an investigation into the deaths. Credit: PTI

“There was no break in the supply on any day,” says K.K. Gupta, director general of medical education in “We will take action against the companies who stopped the supply of They should have some of the responsibility when they know that is a life-saving item,” he says.

However, the government’s own role in the lack of the life-saving item is that they had not paid the private companies who had been supplying to BRD According to news reports, the companies had written repeatedly to the government of to clear their payments of about Rs 68 lakh. “Payments is an ongoing issue, it keeps happening, there is nothing unusual in these payments,” said Gupta.

Ashutosh Tandon, UP’s minister for medical education, said that at least about yesterday’s deaths, none were due to lack of

ANI quoted him as saying three deaths happened in the neonatal ICU, two deaths were due to acute (AES) and two were non-AES deaths. There is still no explanation for why 23 deaths were reported the previous day, August 10, when ran out, and whether there’s a link between the two.

First Published: Sat, August 12 2017. 12:56 IST