The Congress has sought the intervention of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in stopping the death of children in north Bengal. Four more children died at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) in Siliguri in the past 24 hours, sources said.
Former Matigara-Naxalbari MLA and Darjeeling district Congress (Plains) president Sankar Malakar wrote to Miss Banerjee, seeking her intervention, today. “More than 20 children have died of fever in north Bengal recently, and many are undergoing treatment in serious condition. The situation has triggered deep concerns and worry among the people,” Mr Malakar said.
He has requested the CM to set up committees to find out the reasons of the deaths, deterioration of their health condition, and address the problems and upgrade the infrastructure for the treatment of children at the NBMCH and other government-run hospitals in north Bengal.
Mr Malakar has also highlighted the closure of the integrated child development services centres, sishu shiksha kendra, and primary schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which he said was leading to malnutrition and other health problems among children in lack of nutritious meal through the PM POSHAN (earlier mid-day meal scheme).
According to NBMCH authorities, 10 children died of fever and acute respiratory infections (ARI) in the past few days. Although no death has been reported of fever and ARI in the past 72 hours, children are continuing to die due to other diseases, including low birth weight, pre term, and birth asphyxia.
Doctors said no child death due to ARI was reported in the past three days, and that it had brought about temporary relief for them, but they were in favour of waiting for at least seven more days. The referral of children suffering from those diseases has also come down. Four children have been referred to the NBMCH in the past 24 hours, it is learnt.
Eleven children have been discharged during the same period. Thirty children suffering from ARI have been admitted in the paediatric ward presently, sources said. The respiratory syncytial virus and ARI outbreak was predominately found in children suffering from fever recently.
“It is a common respiratory virus, but it can severely affect children with low birth, who are immunocompromised, those who have pre-existing lung and heart problems,” said NBMCH superintendent Dr Sanjay Mallik.
Meanwhile, among the four deaths, a baby had survived for four and half hours in the sick newborn care unit. He died due to ‘extreme low birth and shock, immaturity’, while a five-day-old baby died due to ‘respiratory failure and aspiration pneumonia’, and a one-day-old child died of ‘low birth weight’. Another threeday-old child died due to shock and low birth weight’, sources said.