LARKANA: The Chandka Medical College Hospital (CMCH) confirmed on Saturday the death of nine newborn children in 12 hours at its paediatrics department.
Taking notice of the deaths in the hospital, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed ordered an inquiry into the tragedy.
Sources in the hospital suspected negligence, claiming that lack of accountability coupled with dearth of facilities caused the deaths.
Addressing a press conference along with hospital MS Prof Afsar Bhutto and head of the paediatrics department Prof Saifullah Jamro, Larkana deputy commissioner Asadullah Abro said a provisional report about the infant deaths had been sent to the government.
He said that a five-member committee comprising hospital MS Dr Afsar Bhutto, RMO Dr Abdul Sattar Shaikh, Dr Manzoor Soomro and Dr Anwar Shaikh had been formed to probe the incident.
He said the committee would submit report in three days, adding it would look into the reasons which led to the deaths and put forward proposals to avert such incidents.
The DC said the report would be submitted to the Sindh government in a week.
Dr Abdul Sattar Shaikh, the resident medical officer of the hospital, said the deaths occurred because of birth asphyxia, pre-term, septicemia and low weight abnormalities.
He said the hospital had a capacity of 40 beds, but it was accommodating 160 patients.
“Being a tertiary hospital, we cannot refuse critical cases coming from far-flung areas,” said Prof Jamro, adding four to eight children died at the hospital daily. “The risk of deaths rises due to understaffing and overcrowding”.
He said that five patients were kept on one bed in the emergency department, raising the risk of cross infection too.
He said the hospital lacked neonatal intensive care unit and Unicef had offered the facility for better care of the patients.
“We don’t have statistical system in place and the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Medical University in its meeting on Saturday sanctioned an amount of Rs30 million for setting up the ICU in the children hospital,” he said.
The Institute of Child Health (ICH), Larkana, was approved at a cost of Rs137.75 million.
The CMCH planning officer Altaf Soomro told Dawn the amount of recurring expenditure was Rs58.634 million.
According to PC-I, the scheme would start from 2008-09 and complete in 2009-10, but this is year 2012 and the project is yet not completed.
Prof Jamro said that 99 per cent work of the ICH had been completed while only electric work remained that would soon be completed.
According to sources, the vital issue of schedule of new expenditure (SNE) is pending with the finance department.
Agencies add: Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed have taken notice of deaths of infants in the children hospital.
The governor ordered the health department to inquire the incident and submit a report to him.
The chief minister also sought a report from the health secretary.
He said strict action would be taken against doctors and other medical staff after the inquiry report.
The health minister formed an inquiry committee. It will be headed by health DG Dr Feroz Memon.