Maharashtra Health Department has granted Rs 1.90 crore to the general hospital in Bhandara district to install a new firefighting system and rebuild the sick newborn care unit (SNCU) that was partially gutted in a fire on January 9. An additional Rs 96 lakhs has been sanctioned for medical equipment and instruments.
A senior health officer from the state health department has confirmed the development and informed that they have received grants after the administration’s approval. The work will be done through the budget allocated to the state Public Works Department (PWD). “We had received an estimate from the PWD. It was forwarded to the state government and has now been approved,” he said.
Ten babies had died of burns and suffocation in the SNCU ‘outborn section’ after a fire started in one of the radiant warmer control panels in the wee hours of January 9. The unit had no fire fighting system. The Maharashtra government took action against seven district officials by suspending three, including the civil surgeon, transferring the additional civil surgeon and terminating the contract of three doctors and nurses. An inquiry report stated that the doctors and nurses were negligent in their duties. It recommended installing a system for fire fighting and to maintain equipment in the hospital.
Currently, the hospital is running a makeshift SNCU department in the district hospital by borrowing five radiant baby warmers and five phototherapy units from Yavatmal Government Medical College. “Once Bhandara police allow us to renovate the SNCU, work will begin. We have already received funds from the state and district office,” an official said.
The new SNCU has been allocated Rs 96 lakh by the state government for medical equipment and instruments. The district has disbursed Rs 13 lakh for furniture and construction and Rs 44 lakh for electrical fitting and fire systems. The partially destroyed SNCU was five years old.
Health experts have criticised the state government for taking safety initiatives after tragedies and casualties. Dr Abhijeet More, co-convenor of Jan Arogya Abhiyan, said this is not the first time that the government has woken up and decided to upgrade the health infrastructure to avoid any further incidents. Only when people die does the government realize what could have been done to save them. “We don’t understand why the government or hospital authorities wait for people to die. If the government or hospital officials do their work on time or conduct an audit of each hospital in time, then there will be no such incidents,” he said.
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