NHRC notice to the Government of Maharashtra over the reported high number of deaths at Special Newborn Care Unit in Akola District Women's Hospital (23.10.2017)


New Delhi, 23rd October, 2017
The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Government of Maharashtra, through its Chief Secretary, after taking suo motu cognizance of media reports about the high number of deaths at the Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) in Akola district Women's Hospital. The 4,170 infants had to be admitted to the SNCU out of them 1,472 died in 2016-17. The Medical Superintendent has reportedly stated that every month, they admit at least 250 babies in the SNCU and there is a need for more hands to cope up with the high number of patients. The State Government has been given six weeks time to respond to the reported allegations.

The Commission has observed that the statistics mentioned in the news report, carried on the 16th October, 2017, if correct, clearly indicate towards shortage of doctors, nurses and other staff at the government hospital. The deaths of the newly born babies in such a large number, is indicative of gross negligence on the part of the state government, hospital management and the concerned departments. These amounts to serious issue of violation of human rights of the innocent babies as wells as their families and demands immediate time bound action by the State Government.

The Commission, therefore, has called for a detailed report in the matter giving a point wise reply to the figures mentioned in the news report and the steps being taken/ proposed to be taken to deal with the gruesome situation.

Re-counting the ordeal of expecting mothers in this part of rural Maharashtra, the media report has given an account of the problems faced by a 19 year old women, who delivered an underweight baby and suffered complications before reaching the 30 bed rural hospital at Warwat-Bakal in Buldhana district for treatment but as the Anaesthetist was not available there, she was referred to the Shegaon, which is about one-and-a-half hours away. There, the Gynaecologist was not available, as the post remains vacant and finally a duty doctor helped expel the placenta, which was struck in her uterus. However, she had to be referred with her 1.5 KG baby to the SNCU, which is another one hour journey from Shegaon.