Odisha: Over 150 infants die in 4 months in Kandhamal hospitals

Berhampur Odisha: As many as 154 infants died in different hospitals in Kandhamal between April and July, reflecting the abysmal state of infant and child health care in the tribal-dominated district, which did not have even one paediatrician till last month.

Of the 154 infants who died in different hospitals in the district during the four-month period, 62 were admitted to Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at the district headquarters hospital in Phulbani, an official said on Thursday.

In 2014-15, the SNCU saw 142 deaths. Altogether 1,069 infants were treated at the unit, the official said. The deaths were attributed to low birth weight, lack of pre- and post-natal care, premature delivery, and reluctance among some tribal communities to go for institutional delivery.

Infant mortality rate (IMR) in the district stood at 58 per 1,000 live births as against the state average of 51.

Despite the abysmal IMR, the district did not have a single paediatrician till last month. Three paediatricians joined Phulbani hospital recently after Kandhamal Collector Yamini Sarangi wrote to the state government, requesting for doctors after 26 infants died in SNCU in May.

Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Sapaneswar Gadanayak admitted to the sorry state of affairs. There are no paediatricians in 12 community health centres, two area and sub-divisional hospitals in Baliguda. The district needs at least 19 to ensure proper child care, he said. The critical cases are referred to the 12-bed SNCU at Phulbani. It has a warmer, oxygen cylinder and a few other essential equipment, the official said.

"We are trying to convince the tribals to go for institutional delivery. Last month, a tribal woman near Daringbadi refused to go to hospital even after being provided an ambulance. She delivered a baby at home. She was then taken to the hospital due to excessive bleeding, but the child died on the way," the CDMO said.

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