Death of Children in West Bengal

There has been death of around 37 children in West Bengal recently and outrage against West Bengal CM Mamata who also happens to be the Health Minister.

I am personally interested in this news for 2 reasons – one as father of 2 sons born after lot of difficulty and as a senior executive in the healthcare industry in West Bengal. I am not writing this in any official capacity and I am only a Finance Executive in this field for around one year. Therefore I do not claim to have much knowledge about specific incidents and my post is only as a concerned citizen and as a father.

This year has seen a surfeit of such cases,though anybody reading the news paper reports or seeing the TV reports would think this is the first such incident. To give a perspective I am linking few such cases:

1.  in Kurnool in Sep 2011.

2. in Junagadh Hospital where 23 children were infected by HIV after blood transfusion.

3. remember similar news from Kerala though I have not been able to immediately the links.

The response on twitter is surprising for me in some ways. I am not insensitive. I have spent sleepless nights watching my young son worried about sudden death syndrome. Even as I write this I realise the same could have happened to my sons. I would request the reader to keep this in mind as they read the post further.

The Population of West Bengal is around 90 Million. The crude birth rate is 17.5 which means around 1.6 million children are born every year. The infant mortality rate is 35 which means around 500,000 children die at a very young age every year. That would mean around 1,300 children die every day. A significant number of them would not die if they were born in a developed country or in a richer family.  We as a nation, it must be acknowledged, have failed these children. This in the state of West Bengal alone. Obviously  such deaths would become mere statistics.

In the last 1 year I have closely interacted with Doctors and Medical Staff. They are as human as we are. But are expected to perform super human tasks day in and day out. As an accountant, on twitter and on my blogs I have made many errors but I get away with them. But a medical staff cannot afford to make a single mistake. It can turn fatal like in the case of the child who died because acid was used instead of a disinfectant.

Rather than show outrage today when the incidents are current and then pass on to fresh news like Anna later, the death of these children would at least have some meaning if we could  evolve some long term measures to improve Maternal Mortality and Infant Mortality rather than score brownie points against Mamata.



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