Thirty children have died at a public hospital in India over the past two days, with government critics blaming a shortage of oxygen after a supplier of liquid oxygen cut off deliveries because of unpaid bills.
Government officials were scurrying to explain what had happened, admitting that the state-run hospital owed more than $50,000 to a supplier of liquid oxygen and that oxygen supplies had been “disrupted.”
“There was some payment issue to the oxygen supplier, and there was a shortage of liquid oxygen,” said Anil Kumar, the commissioner of the city of Gorakhpur. But, he added, “those deaths were not due to lack of oxygen.”
Other officials said the hospital had a backup oxygen supply, though they did not explain why so many children had died in such a short time. Since Monday, a total of 60 children have died at the hospital, many from acute encephalitis and others in the neonatal unit.
The hospital, Baba Raghav Das Medical College, is in Gorakhpur, several hundred miles east of New Delhi, India’s capital. It is the rainy season in India when officials say it is not unusual for as many as 10 children to die there every day from Japanese encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease.
While the cause of the deaths remained unexplained — by officials, at least — India’s health care system is often unsparing when it comes to payments. This week, Indian newspapers carried an account of a man who suffered a severe head injury in a motorcycle accident and was turned away from half a dozen hospitals, apparently after they determined he would not be able to pay his bills.
The man was a poor farmhand, and the ambulance driver trying to help him said hospital officials turned the victim away after asking about his financial background. For seven hours, the man was driven from hospital to hospital before arriving at a government one, where he was declared dead on arrival.
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Government officials said that by Friday morning, they had found new supplies of oxygen for the hospital.
Opposition politicians instantly seized on the deaths, calling the government insensitive. “The state government is responsible for the deaths,” said Raj Babbar, a leading opposition figure. “How can there be a shortage of oxygen?”
Other opposition leaders demanded that the government pay $30,000 to compensate each family. Next week is India’s 70th anniversary of independence from Britain, and some scholars made the connection.
“This is not a tragedy. It’s a massacre,” said Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights advocate and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. “Is this what 70 years of freedom means for our children?”
|Mothers get the news. The cause was not even known right away, so many deaths got someone suspicious who investigated|
Adamfoxie*blog asks, where was the money to make sure something as basic as oxygen will be in good supplies at all hospitals in India? Even Ambulances' are assumed to carry oxygen there, may be not. When in the United States there are budgetary cuts it is the hospitals, schools, food program and all those things that middle and poor people need. The rich have their own sources to get what they want and need and don't wait for the government for not much except tax cuts. Where does the money cut from all those above mentioned go? The money is always there is just how it is allocated. In the US like in India and others, to the military.
Certain bombs cost as much as a million dollars each. We also spend a lot of money in increasing the amount we can destroy the world over. 50 times sometimes is not enough if the President is bragging to the Russians and 100 may sound better sounds better (my numbers), now is not millions but Trillions.
In India, like in the US, it works the same way. I invite you to read the news that came along from India from Reuters as we got the news about the dead children:
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's military has increased operational readiness along the eastern Indian border with China, sources said, as neither side shows any sign of backing off from a face-off in a remote Himalayan region near their disputed frontier.
Indian and Chinese troops have been embroiled in the seven-week confrontation on the Doklam plateau, claimed by both China and India's tiny ally, Bhutan.
The sources, who were briefed on the deployment, said they did not expect the tensions, involving about 300 soldiers on each side standing a few hundred feet apart, to escalate into a conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors, who fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962.
But the military alert level had been raised as a matter of caution, two sources in New Delhi and in the eastern state of Sikkim told Reuters on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The crisis began in June when a Chinese construction crew was found to be trying to extend a road in the Doklam region that both China and the mountainous nation of Bhutan claim as theirs.
India, which has special ties with Bhutan, sent its troops to stop the construction, igniting anger in Beijing which said New Delhi had no business to intervene, and demanded a unilateral troop withdrawal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration, though, has dug in its heels and said that the Chinese road activity in the region near the borders of India, Bhutan and China was a threat to the security of its own northeast region.