Fact-finding Report on
“Infant Deaths in Kandhamal district, Odisha”
“Infant Deaths in Kandhamal district, Odisha”
Alarmed over Media Reports about death of hundreds of Infants in Kondhamal district of Odisha, a four-member Fact-finding Team of Right to Food Campaign, Odisha ( Sri Pradip Pradhan, Social Activist, Prof. Jantrana Parikhit, President, Odisha Nagarik Samaj, Sri Sudhir Ranjan Mohanty, advocate, Odisha High Court and Sri Khirod Rout, Member, Right to Food Campaign, Odisha ) had visited Kondhamal district on 7.6.15 to ascertain fact about the causalities and factors responsible for it.
Kondhamal, which came into existence on 1st January, 1994, after Phulbani District is one of the most underdeveloped and backward tribal districts in the state. It stands infamous for its highest infant mortality rate in the country (84 per 1000 child). To ensure food security of the tribals and check health hazards in the district, the state Govt. undertakes a number of development schemes under tribal sub-plan and food security programme with allocation of crores of rupees. But it has failed to check infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate in the district. The tribals are seen quite vulnerable entity and susceptible to any common disease.
It is needless to mention here that the team members were quite aware about bad governance, mal-implementation of food security programme, huge corruption and irregularities in development project like NREGA and pathetic health situation in the district. However, the team visited with open mind to find out the reasons behind the series of infant deaths within a period of five months in District Hospital, Phulbani, district head quarter of Kondhamal (as reported 105 infants died within 5 months in district hospital).
Visit of District Hospital by the Team
Then, after inspection of the Ward, the Team met Dr. Satya Ranjan Mallik, only paediatric doctor in the District hospital ad Dr. Mamata Mohapatra, ADMO ( Medical) and interacted with them to understand the reason of magnitude of the death of infants in the hospital. Narrating his plight as single paediatric doctor in the whole district (the district has 14 Community Health Centre and 34 Primary Health Centre with no paediatric doctor) and pitiable situation in the district hospital, Dr. Mallik said that there is no paediatric doctor against sanctioned post of 3 doctors for SNCU. He is assigned with multiple works like managing OPD, Indoor patients, SNCU, Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre, Isolation, attending VHND (village Health and Nutrition Day). It is not practically possible to pay attention to SMCU only. He also enlightened the Team that the Mothers are seen suffering from maternal infection, severe anaemia, haemoglobin short etc. which is the one of the reasons for the infant deaths. The conditions of the mothers also affect the new burn baby and posed threat to their life. It was also found that the Nursing staffs appointed in SMCU are not well-trained to look after the infants.
The Team also got opportunity to interact with Social Activists Sri Ashok Kumar Parida and Muhammad Jiauddin Ahmmad, concerned citizens and journalists of the districts about the condition of Hospital and disastrous health scenario of the district. They said that total no. of 226 children have died in the district within 5 months. AMNs hardly stay in sub-centres throughout the district. Village and Health Nutrition Day is not observed properly. Low quality of Chhatua under ICDS is given to the children ad mothers. Morning breakfast and food is not properly served to the children. The State Government is completely responsible for it. The Pregnant and lactating women have not got their dues under Mamata Yojana since 2 years. As per information obtained through RTI, Rs.14, 000.00 is spent for washing bed sheet in every month. But the bed sheet is not available in the Wards.
Filed visit of the Team
The Team members visited Dudki, around 10 km distance from Phulbani to interact with the Parents whose child died in the hospital. Srihara Behera said that he admitted her wife in District hospital on 25.5.15. She delivered a baby at 6 PM in SMCU. It was reported by doctor that his child was having breath problem and died on 26 5.15 at 8 AM. The Team also tried to meet other parents but found their absence in the village. ANM was also found absence in the area, as she does not stay there.
Analysis of the findings
A. Large- scale infant deaths in Kondhamal proves the callousness, indifferent and apathetic attitude of the state Government and its failure to provide proper health care to the citizens. It is no doubt a matter of concern for the concerned citizens and Civil Society who has moral responsibility to react on it. The State has completely failed to provide required infrastructure, doctor, para-medical staff in the hospital.
B. There is no paediatric doctor in CHCs ad PHCs of the district. It means the mechanism for the treatment of the children has completely failed in the district. The infants who suffer from any disease is bound to die due to lack of treatment. The huge deaths of children also go unnoticed as they are not allowed to be admitted in the CHC and PHC. As the death of infants occurred in huge scale that too in hospital this time, it came to the public notice. Otherwise, the authorities are quite habituated to under-report the death of the children in kondhamal.
C. The reason cited by the doctor for the death of infant needs to be examined by the experts. The death may be due to negligence of the doctor and nursing staff. As only paediatric doctor in Hospital is assigned with multiple works.
D. Mal-administration and mismanagement of the hospital by the authority is another contributing factor for death of the children. Paediatric Ward is running without latrine, drinking water and bed sheet, sweeper etc.
E. As the team feels the biggest reason of the ill-health of the Mother and children is lack of proper food. Food insecurity is the major threat to their survival in the district. It has been reported by the doctor that most of the women are found suffering from maternal infection, severe anaemia, haemoglobin shortage etc. the implementation of ICDS is disaster in the district.
Keeping in view the pitiable and disastrous health situation in district hospital in general and throughout the district in particular, the teams makes the following recommendation to check infant death and improve health service in the district.
A. In view of absence of paediatric doctor throughout the districts, the Team strongly recommends to State Govt to appoint required doctors ad fill up the vacancies in SMCU, all CHCs and PHCs on war footing way.
B. Repair of Latrine and making it complete functional, availability of drinking water, bed sheet need to be ensured at any cost.
C. Effective monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism should be in place with participation and engagement of the Civil Society like rehired officials, social atavists, journalists, concerned citizens etc.
D. Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) may be requested to send Expert team to find out real reasons behind the instant death of infants in large scale in Kondhamal district.
E. Infant death should not been seen in isolated way only from the health ground. The State Government may constitute a judicial Commission to enquire into the rampant health hazards, deteriorating health condition of women and children, status of implementation of food security programme like PDS, ICDS, MDM and other programme and recommend for revamping and restoring health system in the district.
F. The Team has also decided to approach the High Court, if the State Govt. fails to take ay measures for improvement of health situation of the district.
Signature of Team Members
Pradip Pradhan Prof. Jantrana parikhit
State Convener President
Right to Food Campaign, Odisha Odisha Nagarik Samaj
M-9937843482 M- 9937234088
Khirod Rout Sri Sudhir Mohaty
Member, Right to Food Campaign, Odisha Advocate, Odisha High Court
Right to Food Campaign, Odisha
393/2035, Padmavativihar, P.O. Sailashreevihar, Bhubaneswar, Odisha,