The death of more than 100 children at JK Lon Hospital in Rajasthan’s Kota district and 134 at a government hospital in Gujarat’s Rajkot in December 2019 made global headlines. Children had also died en masse in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district and Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district in the recent past.The sensationalisation of the Kota and Rajkot episodes by media apart, the deaths of children in hospitals across India remain a concern.
Down To Earth (DTE) asked a cross-section of experts how bad was child mortality in Indian hospitals. There was no consolidated data, they said. Only a few proxy calculations could be made. Replying to queries from Down To Earth, Rajesh Khanna, deputy director, Health & Nutrition, at the non-profit Bal Raksha Bharat said, “There are three primary reasons for deaths of children in hospitals in India — delay in recognition (at household level), delay in transportation or referral and delay in treatment (at health facility). As far as specific causes are concerned, preterm births, pneumonia, intrapartum complications and others are responsible for deaths.”