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Times of India
28 June 2010
By Shiva Kumar Pinna
Warangal, India

At Least 190 Newborn Babies Have Died In NICU Since The Beginning Of 2010
NO HOPE? The neonatal intensive care unit in MGM government hospital is a sorry state of affairs NO HOPE? The neonatal intensive care unit in MGM government hospital is a sorry state of affairs
The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) government hospital here seems to be not in the pink of its health. For, not less than 190 newborn babies have died in NICU since the beginning of the year till now.

"It only goes to show the total lack of concern for the newborns. While the officials are nonchalant, infants continue to bite the dust in the portals of MGM hospital," rued Mamatha Raghuveer, founder of an NGO. She said 1–2 infant deaths every day doesn’t bode well for the premier hospital in the district. She filed a complaint with the AP State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), which has directed the authorities to file a detailed report on the mounting death toll of infants.

Even as the shocking numbers emerge, the hospital’s record was no less damaging in 2009. As many as 438 newborns had died last year. Touted as the biggest government hospital in Telangana with a 1,000–bed strength, MGM caters to patients from the nook and corner of Warangal, Karimnagar, Khammam, Nalgonda and other districts.

Notwithstanding the severe shortage of medical equipment and paramedical staff, NICU lacks radiant warmers, which are essential for the recovery of seriously ill newborns, and incubators.

While the requirement is 60, NICU has only 18 warmers. It has 11 incubators. "I was told to wait for my turn as other warmers were all occupied," said Agamma of Atmakuru, holding her five–day–old baby, who has developed complications.

While the doctors claim that they are besieged by hundreds of cases of low weight and premature birth from neighbouring villages and towns, experts said the very functioning of NICU is flawed since the time it came into being in December 2002. "The NICU ward is run in 2,500 square ft area only. As per Medical Council of India guidelines, any NICU should operate in a spacious area of not less than 7,500 sq ft," a medical expert not wanting to named said.

Sources said the 2/3 babies are often squeezed in one incubator. T Kommala of Thorruru said her one–month–old baby girl was forced to share the incubator with a days old baby boy. Shortage of nurses is another major problem MGM is facing. NICU presently has one nurse for four babies, much against 1:2 ratio. "We are only 400. We are struggling hard to cope with the stress as there are 1,000 beds to attend to," said Yakamma, head nurse.

Hospital superintendent E Ashok Kumar agreed that NICU lacked sufficient warmers. "But that alone cannot be blamed for the deaths of the newborns. Private hospitals and government maternity hospitals refer low weight, premature birth and serious cases to us because of which the death ratio is going up. We try our best to save the infants," he stated. He said the hospital development committee has already submitted a report to the government for expansion of the 60–bed NICU.

MGM to get cath lab soon
The 1,000–bed Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) hospital in Warangal, Telangana region’s biggest government hospital, will soon get MRI, CT scan and cardiac cath lab facilities. Sources said the government has decided to install the facilities at an estimated cost of Rs 6 crore. While beneficiaries of Arogyasri can avail themselves of the facilities free of cost, other patients would be charged nominal rates. According to hospital superintendent E Ashok Kumar, the cardiac cath lab service would be introduced for the first time in the region. Cath lab facility is available in Osmania and Gandhi hospitals in Hyderabad.

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