Following the tragic events in Nanded's Shankarrao Chavan hospital on Monday, where 31 individuals lost their lives, another 18 patients, including two infants, passed away at the Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Government Hospital in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad) on Tuesday. The official explanation for these deaths is cited as a shortage of medicines and staff, although the deans of both government hospitals have denied this. This dual tragedy, coupled with the 17 deaths at Kalwa government hospital on August 10, raises significant concerns about the state of Maharashtra's healthcare infrastructure.
Officials at the Nanded and Aurangabad hospitals have refuted claims that the deaths were a result of medication and staff shortages. However, they are unable to provide a satisfactory explanation for the unusually high number of deaths within a 48-hour timeframe.
According to the medical superintendent at the Aurangabad hospital, 18 deaths occurred between 8 am on October 2 and 8 am on October 3. He stated that the deceased included four individuals who were brought in already deceased, two patients who died from heart attacks, two suffering from pneumonia, three with renal failure, one with liver failure, and one patient who succumbed to both liver and kidney failure. Additionally, one casualty resulted from a road accident, one from poisoning, and another from an infection following an appendix burst. Furthermore, two pre-term babies died during their sixth day of treatment (between October 2 and 3) at the hospital, both weighing only 1,300 grams each.
Despite these distressing figures, the hospital's dean, Sanjay Rathod, downplayed the situation, claiming that there was no significant disparity between the number of deaths and total admissions. He emphasized that approximately 200 patients, including critical cases, are admitted daily, and given their critical condition, the number of deaths is not disproportionately high.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray criticized the state's healthcare system under the BJP government, stating that it has collapsed.
Meanwhile, relatives of the deceased patients have pointed to inadequate facilities, including a shortage of medicines, as contributing factors to the incident.
Notably, nearly 350 doctors were transferred between July and August, leading to protests by resident doctors who couldn't receive training due to the shortage of senior doctors and professors. Additionally, the Sambhajinagar hospital faces a shortage of around 1,200 doctors.
Former Chief Minister and local Congress MLA Ashok Chavan visited the Nanded government hospital to assess the situation. He expressed his dismay, emphasizing that government medical colleges are facing a severe crisis due to understaffing and medication shortages. Chavan noted that, besides the 24 deaths in the past 24 hours, approximately 70 patients are in critical condition, some of whom have been referred to private hospitals, indicating that the death toll could rise.
Dr. Dilip Mhaiskar, Director of Medical Education and Research in Maharashtra, reported that within 24 hours, Nanded government Hospital and Medical College (GMCH) recorded 24 deaths, with 12 of them being infants referred from local private hospitals.