Weak healthcare system at peripheries reason behind higher mortality rate at G.B Pant hospital

SRINAGAR: The weak health system in rural areas is pushing up the neonatal mortality rate of Kashmir’s only children’s hospital, G.B Pant, authorities say.
Data by the hospital shows that 90 percent of patients who visit the hospital are from rural areas as peripheral hospitals are not adequately equipped to provide treatment to the neonates or infants less than four weeks old.
“The district hospitals don’t even have ventilators to stabilize a baby. When such a patient reaches the hospital, he is in such a critical condition that he dies in couple of hours,” said a resident medical officer at G.B Pant.
The doctor said that infants referred to the hospital usually die of hypothermia and infection.
“Infants who are born in any season are to be kept warm and proper care is to taken to keep them away from infection. But this doesn’t happen. Parents of the infants who come from rural areas travel by bus or sumo and that’s where they catch cold and infection. And when they reach here, it becomes difficult for us to stabilize them,” the doctor said.
A senior administrator of the hospital said that the mortality rate of the infants who have died in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was high of patients who have come from rural areas.
“And this will continue till our peripheral hospitals won’t be equipped,” he said.
“The hospital has staff strength of 60 doctors. Of them, 14 are senior doctors, 18 senior residents and 28 post graduate. The nursing staff is around 100. And in a day, we admit more than 300 patients while our bed strength is 200,” the administrator said.
He said that either the government should strengthen the peripheries and put a stop to referral system or increase the man power and facilities in tertiary care hospitals so that they won’t have shortage of anything.
Medical superintendent G.B Pant, Mushtaq Ahmad said that if an infant dies in the hospital within 24 hours of admission, the hospital was not responsible for the death. “If the death occurs after 24 hours then the hospital is responsible for it,” he said.
“A research done by the post graduate students of the Valley says that the infants who come from rural areas have more chances of death the infants from city. And the reason for that is the weak peripheral system,” he added.