Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday dismissed the opposition charge that the recent crib deaths in state-run hospitals in Malda and Murshidabad were due to medical negligence.
"In Malda, 8,000 babies are born outside hospitals. In Murshidabad too, non-institutional births run into several thousands. These babies who are brought to hospitals do not die due to negligence. But if negligence occurs, the guilty will be punished," Banerjee told news channels.
Pointing out that a large number of women in rural areas are married off before 18, she said in most cases, their children weigh 500 to 600 gm.
"This (early marriage) is a social disease. But if they are referred to state-run hospitals, we cannot refuse them admission," she said adding those who are criticising the government over the infant deaths are doing so to "malign" it.
In Malda, Congress and CPI(M) are doing this in a planned manner, the CM alleged.
Pointing out that 70 to 80 children have died at the BC Roy Paediatric Institute during the last Left Front rule, she said "over the past eight months, however, we have been able to bring down infant mortality substantially".
As per the union government figures, Bengal now has a lower infant mortality rate than many states like Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka, Banerjee said.
Mamata said she has already given a representation to the Prime Minister asking him to provide vitamin supplement for pregnant mothers.
"We are also providing free vehicles to would-be mothers to come to hospitals for check-ups during their pregnancy," she said adding her government had opened six sick neonatal care units in various state-run hospitals and 40 more such units would be set up in the next one year.
Pointing out that 39 lakh patients were admitted to government hospitals every year, she said that to reduce the pressure on them, 30 more multi-super-critical hospitals would be set up in districts.
The government is also in the process of creating seven health districts for better health care administration and setting up 3,500 new beds in state-run hospitals, Banerjee said.