The curious case of infant deaths

In the blink of an eye, pneumonia, premature birth, infections and unsafe delivery meddled with their hopes

Taha Kehar November 27, 2014
The curious case of infant deaths

Tragedy comes in all shapes and sizes. But the 22 women who lost their babies due to medical negligence at a Sargodha hospital could never have imagined the dramatic twist their life would take. On the contrary, the only option available to them was to accept the explanation provided by the hospital.

In the blink of an eye, pneumonia, premature birth, infections and unsafe delivery meddled with their hopes and snatched away the gift of motherhood from them. Unfortunately, a clear and consistent investigation into the matter has yet to be conducted. Unfortunately, the incident has fallen prey to needless speculation instead of prompt action.

An initial inquiry committee tasked by the government to probe the infant deaths has let the management off the hook. Through a detailed scrutiny of files and medical instruments, the committee has thrown its weight behind the management’s observations on the cause of deaths.

Despite this official clarification, it is difficult to cast aside the likelihood of medical negligence. After all, holding medical practitioners accountable for breaches of duty could result in a series of defensive practices and prevent them from taking risks.  According to speculations, the children died due to insufficient oxygen supply and negligence on the part of doctors. For a mother who has lost her child, doubts and fears linger. What is more, the trail of conflicting evidence on the matter adds fuel to the fire.

At this critical stage, the government needs to take notice of this incident and ensure such mishaps do not occur in the future. This is a pressing concern as the hospital’s nursing ward is the only facility for infant care in Sargodha.

In order to develop a suitable way forward, the government should take a proactive measure to improve the quality of services offered at the hospital.

Media reports indicate that the facility had been gravely understaffed for a long time. A medical superintendent has also raised concern over the chief minister’s indifference to the large number of vacancies for doctors and nurses at the hospital. Moreover, the hospital insists that the nursery ward will only function smoothly if it is shifted to another building.

Unless these problems are rectified with immediate effect, the mothers who have lost their children will never be able to rest as peacefully as their newborns now do.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2014.


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