Poor hospital infrastructure takes away four young lives in a single day in Ghatkopar

Mumbai,Maitri Porecha: It was a day of gloom at a private-run hospital in Ghatkopar, as four children died in a single day on Saturday. A set of premature twins, a 3-month-old male infant and a one-and-a-half-year old girl succumbed to varied conditions in Bakul Parekh’s Children hospital at Ghatkopar East.

The twins belonging to a family in Ghatkopar were admitted to the hospital a fortnight ago. Dr Bakul Parekh, senior paediatrician, said: “They weighed nearly a kilo each. A normal baby weighs over 2 kg. Their lungs had not developed and they were critical on ventilator.”

Three-month-old Aradhya Bhosale was admitted to the hospital, gasping for breath. He had pneumonia and died a day after. “Aradhya has been coughing for a week now. The pollution levels in Chembur, where we are currently based, are extremely high. He was brought by his parents from Panvel to Chembur 10 days ago. He later developed infection at home and was hospitalised,” said Aniket Bhosale, the deceased’s uncle.

In the third case, Tanvi Patel was admitted with severe pneumonia five days ago. “Tanvi had come from Gujarat with her parents to attend a wedding. She became drowsy in the train, her sugar levels had plummeted and later she suffered from liver and kidney failure,” said Dr Parekh.

Of the three families, the Bhosales alleged that the hospital could have been more stringent with protocols of entry into the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). “The cleaners who enter the ICU do not wear gowns or gloves while cleaning. More than one relative can sit with the child. They can curtail that and step up care,” said Aniket.

Dr Parekh, however, said that the influx of relatives in the hospital becomes very difficult to control. “Anyone and everyone wishes to visit a child. We restrict entry though,” said Dr Parekh. The 50-bedded hospital is the only one in the Ghatkopar-Chembur area with up to 18 neonatal ICU beds and a 6-bedded ventilator facility for children.

Dr Parekh said that there is a dearth of ventilator beds in eastern suburbs for sick children and neonates (aged between 0–1 month). “Up to 20 paediatricians from eastern suburbs refer children to our hospital. From that, at least two extremely critical children from tertiary hospitals like Wadia and civic-run Sion hospital are admitted here every week,” said Dr Parekh.

Nine -month-old grandson Aftab, who is in the ventilator, was shifted from Wadia hospital in Parel to Bakul Parekh’s hospital. “The treatment in Wadia was not satisfactory, so we brought the baby here,” said his grandfather Farid.

While the cost of a ventilator bed in posh hospitals go up to Rs 15,000 a day, in municipal hospitals like KEM, Sion or Nair, there is a perennial dearth of beds. “Where does a common man go in such a case? In Bakul Parekh’s hospital, we get ventilator at a subsidised rate of Rs 5,000– 6,000 a day,” said Farid.

Up to 3.6 lakh children below five die pre-term every year in India, says a Lancet study.
In Mumbai, 32 out of every 1,000 children below the age of five die due to multiple illnesses
In Chennai, CMR is 15 deaths per 1,000 live births
Pathanamthitta district in Kerala has only nine deaths per 1,000 livebirths in under-five children
3,000 children die every day as a result of being born pre-maturely
India constitutes up to 32% of the burden due to poor health care facilities.
While Mumbai requires close to 10,000 ICU beds for children, barely 1,000 are available.
Currently, there are less than 400 neonatal beds in public and private hospitals for 1.6 lakhs births in the city
“There is a shortage of super-specialty care for newborns in the city. In such circumstances, infant mortality rate is only bound to rise,” said Dr Nandkishor Kabra, a senior paediatrician from Surya Hospital in Santa Cruz.