4.5-kg baby who died not on malnourished list

Aug 06, 2013, 01:00 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

The name of the eight-month-old from Mokhada taluka was not on the government's list that identifies underfed children in an area; experts say that had her name been on it, she would have been provided better and timely medical aid

A day after MiD DAY’s exposé on the biting hunger that residents of Jawhar and Mokhada talukas face and the malnourishment the children suffer from (‘Barely 150 km from Mumbai, 15 children died of malnutrition in the past 2 months’), comes another heart-wrenching report of the death an eight-month-old severely malnourished child from Bandryachiwadi, Mokhada on July 23.

Can’t believe she’s gone: Yeshwanti weeps for her granddaughter Priya, who died owing to pneumonia. Priya’s parents ran pillar to post to provide their daughter with good medical aid but she was denied admission at the rural hospital. Pic/Atul Kamble

Priya Kirkire, the eight-month-old, died on July 23 after her family was sent from pillar to post, from one hospital to another. On Saturday when MiD DAY visited the girl’s home in Bandryachiwadi, there was an air of gloom as parents Ajay and Shakuntala were shocked and stunned.

Click to view: Barely 150 km from Mumbai, 15 children died of malnutrition in the past 2 months
MiD DAY report yesterday

Grandmother Yeshwanti through her sobs said, “Priya was around 2 kg in weight when she was born. Her mother could not breastfeed her and she was administered oral milk since birth. However, her weight hardly increased.”

Troubles begin
According to Ajay, on July 16, Priya was taken to a private clinic after she started suffering from a cold, dysentery and experiencing trouble while breathing. She was given some medicines but on July 18 when there was no improvement, she was taken to a rural hospital in Mokhada. The on-duty doctor gave some medicines and even gave an injection to her.

“At the hospital, I told the doctor to admit my daughter but he did not react or respond to me. So, we left the hospital and went to my sister’s home in Vadpada,” said Ajay in his statement (copy available with MiD DAY) to local ICDS officials from Jawhar.

He further added that they returned home the next day and administered the medicines that the rural doctor had given them. However, with no signs of improving, the worried parents took her to the primary health centre at Nandgaon, where Dr Ahire examined Priya and then gave a transfer form asking us to take her to Cottage Hospital in Jawhar.

“Owing to personal problems and lack of transportation we took Priya to Jawhar hospital on July 23, but found out that Priya had passed away on the journey and returned home midway.”

Later, reports revealed that the eight-month-old passed away owing to pneumonia. While one may think it is a single case, Priya’s case is indicative of the larger picture of patient care in the villages and talukas where doctors fail to communicate with the patient’s family, which leads to a complete breakdown.

Not on the list
Surprisingly, Priya who weighed only 4.5 kg at the time of death, was not mentioned in the list of severely malnourished children in the area. Under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), launched by the UPA government in February 2013, for ‘child health screening and early intervention services’ under the National Rural Health Mission, a team of doctors visited the anganwadi at Bandryachiwadi on May 25. Out of all the children screened, they found only one child in the severe malnourished category, and three under moderate malnourished category. Priya was nowhere mentioned in the list.

According to Neeta Kothare, assistant child development project officer, Jawhar, said, “Had Priya been named in the list of severe malnourished category, special care could have been given to her. Also, the absence of her name from the list indicates that either she was not present for the check-up or that the doctors did not screen her well.”

Priya could have been saved
Dr Ramdas Marad, superintendent at Cottage Hospital, Jawhar said, “Had Priya been sent to us on time, there were high chances that we could have saved her life.” District Health Officer, Zilla Parishad, Thane Dr Raoji Kadam said, “The girl was taken to a rural hospital in Mokhada on time by the parents. If the doctor on-duty had admitted her and administered high doses of antibiotics, she could have been saved. Ever since it has been revealed, I have been asking, why did the doctor not admit her?”

When asked if an inquiry would be conducted, Dr Kadam added, “Rural hospitals come under the purview of the civil surgeon, Thane.” Significantly, the post of civil surgeon has been lying vacant for a month.

MiD DAY’s attempt to reach out to medical officer Dr Manish Renge at the Civil Hospital in Thane did not yield any results.

Criminal negligence
Indavi Tulpule, a social activist Shramik Mukti Sangathan (SMS) said, “This is clear case of criminal negligence. The matter needs to be inquired and action should be taken against those involved for dereliction of duty.”

State Minister for Tribal Welfare and Development Madhukar Pichad said, “This is a very serious matter and I will ensure that a proper inquiry is conducted. Also, it is shocking that under the RBSK list, Priya’s name was not present. I will speak to the concerned minister (Women and Child and Public Health) and ensure an inquiry is conducted.” 

Did you know?
The ideal weight for a eight-month-old girl is 7.92 kg as per UN standards

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