Did malnourishment kill infant or negligence?

Despite crores funnelled through schemes on rural health care, Nashik hospital reports 2-month-old's death due to malnourishment; locals claim it was because he did not receive proper treatment owing to a shortage of specialists

Despite its efforts to combat malnourishment in the state by making available sundry resources and facilities that make for a humongous bill, a two-month-old died in Nashik due to severe pneumonia and malnourishment. While the zilla parishad claims the child died due to negligence, and not malnourishment, they said they would investigate the matter.

In dire straits: MiD DAY had reported that 35,000 children are suffering
from malnourishment in Nashik alone. PIC for representation

On Sunday night, two-month-old Ramkrishna Darade died in the Nashik Civil Hospital due to malnourishment, a hospital report states. A doctor from the hospital said, "The child did not survive because of prolonged pneumonia. He was admitted to the hospital on Saturday night after a rural hospital directed his parents here."

Darade belonged to Dhanpada village in Pet, an area with a high number of malnourished kids. MiD DAY had reported exhaustively about the issue in the past few months. ('450 kids starve to death in 4 months,' September 1, '619 babies died hungry last year', Sept 4, '35,000 malnourished kids in Nashik alone', Sept 7). 
But a health official from the zilla parishad claimed that the treatment the baby received at the primary healthcare centres was not up to speed. "There are no paediatricians for children who are severely ill or require special care," he said.

Primary problem
According to the Chairperson of Women and Child Welfare Committee, Sangita Patil, every primary centre in the district had two certified doctors but no specialists. "There is a need for paediatricians to pay attention to children who are born weak and require medical assistance. We have asked the dept to fill in the posts immediately," she said, adding, "According to the health department, the child was healthy on birth, weighing 2.5 kg. When he died, he weighed approximately 5 kg.

"The problem was that he was suffering from pneumonia for a month and when his parents took him to the PHC, the doctors gave him medicines and discharged him immediately. The things we require right now are good doctors at the PHCs, which are the first resort of the locals. I would visit the village and seek more information soon."

She added, "It seems that the doctors at the civil hospital did not treat him well, and reported that he died of malnourishment. The anganwadi workers who are in constant touch with the family wouldn't lie to us ," she said.

Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner, Nashik, Jayant Gaikwad said funds would be made available through various schemes for appointing special as well as regular doctors in every village for looking after malnourished children only.

"The incidents in Nandurbar and Pet where children have died due to malnourishment show that doctors are needed to look after them. While PHCs treat everyone from the village, these doctors would visit every anganwadi and check on the status of every child."

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