Adityanath: Won't spare those responsible for children's deaths in Gorakhpur hospital

Yogi Adityanath visits Gorakhpur hospital
Amidst mounting criticism of his government's handling of the crisis in the Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur, where more than 60 children have died in the past week due to encephalitis and other reasons, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today declared that the strictest action would be taken againt those found guilty of negligence.
Speaking to newspersons in Gorakhpur after visiting the hospital for the second time in four days, he insisted that the deaths had not been caused by the disruption in supply of oxygen on the night of August 10 and said that an inquiry by the Chief Secretary, ordered by him, would establish the causes of the tragedy.
"I can assure that we will not spare anyone found guilty. We will act against them very strictly so that it also acts as a deterrence for others," he said.
He said the committee headed by the Chief Secretary would look into all apsects of the crisis, including the disruption in supply of oxygen and if it had caused any of the deaths.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda, who visited the hospital today. Union Minister of Health Anupriya Patel and the Health Secretary were in Gorakhpur yesterday and a team of top doctors from Delhi are in the town to conduct an in-depth study of the situation as well as the protocols of medical treatment followed for handling cases of Japanese encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrom (AES) in the hospital.
Yogi Adityanath said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was extremely concerned over the situation and had assured the state government of all help from the Centre in handling the crisis.
The crisis has sparked political and public outrage after reports that as many as 30 children had died in the space of 48 hours on August 9 and 10, with as many as 23 children dying on August 10. The fact that there was a disruption in the supply of liquid oxygen to the hospital on August 10, because of a default in payment by the hospital to the supplier, led to allegations of negligence against the hospital authorities as well as the state government.
Yesterday, the state government suspended the Principal of the Medical College amidst a growing clamour for heads to roll after fixation of responsibility for the tragedy.
According to official sources, as many as nine children died on August 7; 12  on August 8; nine on August 9; 23 on August 10 and seven on August 11. Since then, there have been more deaths over the past two days.
The tragedy has come as a major embarrassment for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, because Gorakhpur is his home town and was his Parliamentary constituency for long years. 
Further, he  had paid a visit to the hospital on August 9 and also gone to the paediatric ward, but officials now claim that he was not aware of the huge number of deaths that had occurred in the previous days.
State Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh and Medical Education Minister Ashutosh Tandon visited the hospital yesterday. 
At his press conference today, Yogi Adityanath said he had been campaigning for measures to fight encephalitis in Uttar Pradesh, where it has claimed thousands of lives over the past three decades, for many years. He said the government had now introduced the Japanese encephalitis vaccine as part of the Universal Immunisation Programme. He said 90 lakh children in 38 districts had been covered under the programme.
He said the issue has remained a matter of high priority with him after becoming Chief Minister and he has already visited the hospital four times since assuming office on March 19.
"I have been involved in this fight since the early 1990s. I have seen children die...," he said, breaking briefly into tears. He said he had taken up the matter at all levels, and raised it several times in Parliament when he represented Gorakhpur in the Lok Sabha. "Nobody understands this problem better than me," he said.
He said that, along with encephalitis, there was need to fight other diseases such as swine flu, kala azar, dengue and chikungunia.
The Chief Minister urged the media to visit the wards in the hospital and see for themselves the treatment being provided to the patients instead of reporting from outside. He said he  had instructed the hospital to arrange for the media to visit the wards in small groups in such a way that the patients and doctors were not disturbed.
He also urged the media to wait for the report of the inquiry committee before coming to any conclusions about the tragedy. "We are waiting for the report of the committee constituted by our Government. I would urge everyone to wait for that report. Not just in Gorakhpur but across the state, if any death is caused by the negligence of hospital authorities, the government will take strong action those responsible," he said.
He also said there was an urgent need for a full-fledged Viral Research Centre at Gorakhpur. He said work on the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Gorakhpur had already begun.
Mr. Nadda said the Centre would provide all possible assistance to the state government in coping with the crisis. He said the Union Government had decided to establish a full-fledged Regional Medical Research Centre at Gorakhpur at a cost of Rs. 85 crore.


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