It has been hardly 3 months since the infamous BRD Hospital of Gorakhpur last made news, and it is back in the spotlight again. In a span of 48 hours, 30 children have died in the hospital, six of them due to encephalitis.
While 30 deaths in mere two days are definitely alarming, human negligence doesn’t seem to be the cause this time. The authorities made clear that shortage of oxygen played no role whatsoever. This is important because the lack of oxygen cylinders was the reason assumed by many for the death of 70 infants in the same hospital in August this year.
Dr DK Srivastave (HOD, Community Medicine, BRD Hospital) made the following statement:
“Out of the 30, 15 children were younger than one month. If children younger than one month are not treated urgently, their mortality rate increases. Six kids died due to encephalitis, while the others died due to various reasons.” (source: ANI)
Encephalitis is a condition where the brain swells in size and cause many complications, ranging from fever and stiffness to coma and paralysis. The BRD Hospital has been seeing huge cases of encephalitis for many decades, with patients coming from neighbouring cities and even Bihar and Nepal. Between 1978-2011, more than 30,000 people died due to this disease. In the past five years, the rate has slightly decreased, though still, 3,000 children have died between 2012-17.
Encephalitis is particularly mortal in infants (children younger than one month). While six children died due to this cause, the causes for other 24 deaths varied and haven’t yet been disclosed. But the bigger question we need to ask is this: despite the periodic outbreak of encephalitis in the region, why hasn’t the government (past and present) done anything about it? We still await the remarks of our leaders.