The recent deaths of innocent new born babies in the Government Medical College and Hospital at Mundiyambakkam, Villupuram district is extremely saddening, and is sending shockwaves around the state. This time, nine infant lives have been lost due to the government’s ineptitude. Earlier this year, over 13 infants died in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts in Government Hospitals. Three instances in different places are clear indicators of the inability of Government Hospitals to manage infant care.
These alarming incidents have raised eyebrows and brought shame to our state and its healthcare system, which was once heralded as a model forthe rest of India. While the current government claims that it has been implementing healthcare schemes to reduce the infant mortality rate and neonatal mortality rate; it appears that the schemes are only on paper. In fact, as a part of the election promises in 2011, the AIADMK government stated that the assistance under the Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Benefit Scheme will be increased to Rs 12,000. Under this scheme, pregnant women are supposed to be given this amount in three installments to ensure they undergo periodical health check-ups. Is this assistance reaching all the pregnant women in the state?
The health minister convened a review meeting of senior officials in the Health Department yesterday and did not even discuss the issue of infant deaths.
The callousness of the ADMK government towards the people of the state is appalling. Afterthe review, a press release was issued and the Minister claimed that in the last four years, 26.72 lakhs mothers availed worth Rs 2477.95 crores in financial assistance under Dr Muthulakshmi Maternity Benefit scheme. I want to ask the Minister whether those mothers who lost their infants in the Government Hospitals in Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Villupuram were also the beneficiaries of the Maternity Benefit Scheme since his press release today was silent about it. Had these schemes been implemented properly, would we have lost these lives? While the medical authorities insist that there was no medical negligence in any of the deaths; could it have been that the maternity benefits did not reach the beneficiaries on time?
Our healthcare system is plagued with problems. Our hospitals do not get new equipment and are badly-maintained. There are vacancies in doctors’ posts in rural areas. This chronic mismanagement has led to gross negligence in our hospitals. These infant deaths were preventable and the healthcare system’s failure to do so is a tragedy. These are precious lives, not mere statistics. Even one death due to negligence of our healthcare system is one death too many. It is now time for the people to take a reality check on the promises made by the ADMK government and recognize that they are being fooled in the name of ‘welfare’ schemes. I would like to ask the ADMK government what new explanation it has for its ineptitude and inability to keep its promises.