Hyderabad: That Niloufer Hospital has inadequate infrastructure is a well-known fact. But how bad is the situation? If one goes by the hospital records, it appears that it can’t get any worse. On an average, 350 kids die at the hospital every month. In the last seven months, as many as 2,122 children died in the hospital. In 2011, 3,447 infants breathed their last. The previous year, the number stood at 4,296.
Though there has been a marginal decline in numbers, the death rate, some doctors admit, is too alarming. The hospital at any given point of time can cope with only 500 patients, given its shortage of man power and below average facilities. “However, at present, 1,200 in-patients are getting treatment at the hospital and each bed is shared by two to three children,” said a senior doctor on condition of anonymity.
The problem isn’t just one of attending to the patients. Medicines too have to be distributed with numbers in mind more than the need. “This is why there is no quality and adequate treatment for the children which automatically leads to an increase in infant mortality rate,” the doctor said adding that unusable ventilators, incubators, scarcity of antibiotics, lack of life-saving drugs and inadequate nursing staff are the other reasons for the deaths.
That Niloufer Hospital has inadequate infrastructure is a well-known fact. But how bad is the situation?
At present, 30 professors, 70 assistant doctors and 105 nurses are working at the hospital. Each nurse has to take care of 12-15 children and each doctor treats 24 kids. In fact, the neonatal intensive care unit doesn’t have enough beds. Most of the patients who come to the hospital are poor and hail from rural areas. Due to shortage of medicines, many have to buy them from medical stores at market cost.
When contacted, Dr C Suresh Kumar, incharge superintendent, admitted that there was shortage of staff and inadequate facilities. But he disagreed with the view of some that the deaths were a direct result of these two factors. “We cannot attribute these deaths to inadequate staff and facilities. It’s a referral hospital and many children are shifted to this hospital under serious conditions,” he pointed out.
According to him, being under-weight is one of the reasons for the deaths of the newborns. “Many terminally ill patients are referred to the hospital as it is a tertiary care centre,” he added. “We have been asking the government to increase the number of staff for the last 5 years but the response hasn’t been encouraging.”