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Inquiry ordered in children’s deaths in northern India hospital

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Updated: 09:56 GMT, Aug 13, 2017 | Published: 05:10 GMT, Aug 13, 2017 |
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 Chief Of India‘s Uttar Pradesh State, Yogi Adityanath, on Saturday (August 12) said an inquiry has been ordered to investigate the death of 60 children allegedly due to lack of oxygen supplies at a hospital this week.

The hospital, Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, is located in Gorakhpur district of the state, which is represented by Adityanath, who was appointed to head the state this year.

Adityanath, while speaking to reporters, said a committee has also been set up which would probe the role of oxygen supplier in the incident.

However, the state chief maintained that the deaths were caused due to reasons other than lack of oxygen supplies.

Local media reports have said some of the deaths were caused due to the oxygen shortage after a private supplier withdrew its equipment over unpaid hospital dues.

However, earlier in the day, the medical college said 34 were babies who died at the neo-natal intensive care unit, while 12 died because of encephalitis. The rest died of other unspecified causes.

In the statement, the medical college added that there had been a “drop in pressure in the supply of liquid oxygen” on Thursday (August 10), but added cylinders were procured from various other suppliers. It did not specify whether that had resulted in any deaths.

The breakdown of the death toll provided by the medical college showed a spike on Thursday, with 23 fatalities, including 14 babies at its neo-natal unit.

India‘s most populous state’s chief further added that the principal of the medical college has been suspended and further action would be taken against him.

The deaths have sparked a political firestorm, as opposition sought to pin the blame on Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules the state.

India spends about one percent of its GDP on public health, among the lowest in the world. Successive governments have faced criticism for not reforming the overburdened public health system which is still plagued with shortage of doctors and dilapidated infrastructure.

Modi’s government has in recent years increased health spending and vowed to make healthcare more affordable.