Amid a continuing health crisis in Uttar Pradesh that has resulted in the deaths of more than 60 children, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday evening denied allegations by families that such a large number of children had died due to the “shortage of oxygen supply” at the BRD hospital.
Adityanath expressed condolences and said his government has sought a detailed report on the incident in Gorakhpur, his home constituency.
“The government is looking into the role of the gas supplier and a probe has been launched. Those responsible for this will be dealt with strictly,” Adityanath said. A committee has been constituted to investigate the matter.
Early in the day, the CM had shone the light on the history of encephalitis, which according to him, has been there since 1978. And since 1978, if innocent kids are falling prey to it every year, “somewhere lack of cleanliness and open defecation are responsible for this”.
“There is a lack of awareness among people about the importance of hygiene,” the CM said, adding, “What will be the future of a country whose children are dying of these diseases? It’s a challenge. It’s distressing, but we have to find a solution to this distress,” Adityanath said.
However, the families continue to blame the “dilapidated state of hospital infrastructure” and the “negligence of hospital staff” for the unfortunate tragedy.
A father, who lost his son this afternoon, alleged that he was not even allowed to move out of the hospital because health minister Siddartha Nath Singh was expected to visit the hospital and hold a press conference.
“When the kid trembled again, I asked the doctor if he was fine. The doctor first said that the kid was suffering from Pneumonia and admitted him,” the father said.
When asked if the hospital really had a problem on the nights of August 10 and 11 when the maximum number of deaths occurred, the father responded in affirmation. “Yes, there was a shortage of oxygen and people were in distress,” he said adding that his kid died because of the negligence of the doctors at the BRD hospital.
Uttar Pradesh health minister Siddarth Nath Singh reiterated that none of the deaths had occurred due to the lack of oxygen and he had a proof of that. The minister added that not all patients were from Gorakhpur and several from Nepal and Bihar also come to the city for treatment.
The Opposition, particularly the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party launched a scathing criticism of the government.
“As many as 60 children have died in a government hospital in Gorakhpur in the last six-seven days. This is an example of the gross criminal negligence of the BJP government,” BSP chief Mayawati said in a release.
Blaming the Yogi Adityanath government for the tragedy, SP president Akhilesh Yadav claimed that a shortage of oxygen supply in the hospital led to it.
“The company supplying oxygen had informed the principal (of Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital) that it would stop the supply if payment was not made and the government must be aware that the deaths have been caused due to a shortage of oxygen,” he said.