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Jan 22, 2013 at 05:20pm IST

Mamata Banerjee blames crib deaths in West Bengal on influx of patients from Bihar

Kolkata: Attributing crib deaths to underweight and malnourished babies, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday labelled the influx of patients from neighbouring Bihar as a problem. "You know what our problem is? Many people from Bihar bring their children for treatment to hospitals in Malda and Murshidabad (districts)," Mamata said while inaugurating a fair price medicine shop here.

However, she was quick to add, "Bihar is our neighbour and we have to treat children coming from there. We are ready to do it. You cannot discriminate between human beings." Hospitals in Malda district have been in the news for regular crib deaths.

In January 2012 alone, 100 such deaths were recorded. Mamata also blamed underage marriage of girls for premature and underweight babies.

West Bengal: Mamata blames crib deaths on Bihar patients

"Bihar is our neighbour and we have to treat children coming from there. We are ready to do it," the West Bengal chief minister quickly added.

"Crib deaths are happening because most of the babies are born premature and are grossly underweight and malnourished. The problem is underage marriage of girls and lack of infrastructure in rural and remote areas," she said.

She claimed that infant mortality during her regime had dropped to 19 per cent from 23 per cent in early 2011. "To reduce crib deaths, we will be setting up 40 SNCUs (Special Newborn Care Units) by March 31. Of these 21 are already operating. We are also planning to set up 11 mother-child hubs for special treatment to such babies," added the Trinamool Congress party supremo.