News ID: 198546
Published: 1256 GMT August 13, 2017

Northern Indian state suspends hospital chief after deaths of 60 children (video)

Northern Indian state suspends hospital chief after deaths of 60 children (video)
Children are treated at Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh has suspended the head of a hospital where at least 60 children died, while the federal health minister on Sunday vowed action against the culprits, as state and hospital officials traded blame over funding matters.

The government in Uttar Pradesh, run by India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), suspended the head of the state-run BRD Medical College, Rajeev Misra, late on Saturday and ordered an investigation into contracts to supply oxygen, Reuters reported.

Media have said the deaths of the children, 34 infants among them, were caused in part by an oxygen shortage after a private supplier withdrew its equipment over unpaid hospital dues.

Hospital officials have denied this, saying alternative supplies had been found, and blamed many of the deaths instead on the disease encephalitis and unspecified issues related to delivery of the infants.

On Sunday, Health Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet, J.P. Nadda, visited the hospital in the town of Gorakhpur, 800 km (507 miles) east of New Delhi, accompanied by the state's Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath.

Nadda promised "strict action" against the culprits in an interview with the news channel NDTV, before his departure from the Indian capital.

The issue of the unpaid bills for oxygen supply has become a flashpoint in relations between the hospital and the state government, after the suspended hospital chief on Saturday accused state officials of ignoring his requests for money.

"I wrote at least three letters," Misra told television reporters on Saturday, adding that he had even flagged the issue in video conference discussions.

The Uttar Pradesh health minister defended the government's role, saying no issue of unpaid bills had been brought to its attention and all requests for funds were paid promptly.

TRT World Published on Aug 13, 2017 In India, an investigation is underway to determine why more than 60 children at a single hospital died within a week. Parents are blaming a shortage of bottled oxygen - which the government denies. Others say it could be linked to a deadly, mosquito-borne disease.
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