LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: 24-hrs, Eight deaths- The shameful plight of Assam’s Health Sector!
Dated- October 8, 2017
TNT- The Northeast Today
In view of the death of 8 infants in Assam two days ago in just 24 hours at Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital in Assam's Barpeta district, I would like to draw your attention to the neglected state of health sector in the state. It has been long known that Assam has one of the highest infant mortality rate in the country. The infant mortality rate (IMR) per 1,000 live births per year is 48 in the State as against the all-India figure of 41 (NFHS 4). The maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Assam is also among the highest in the country, and by and large, common strategies can address these two scenarios in the State.
Despite having known the problem, nothing has been done to neutralize the root cause of the same. Massive awareness to prevent early marriage, early pregnancy and recurrent pregnancies, diligent implementation of life skills education for children going to educational institutions, strengthening social institutions and local governance systems to prevent child marriages and increasing law enforcers-community interface, and registration of all marriages irrespective of religion professed by the couple and other societal norms and beliefs should form part of a holistic strategy to bring about a lasting change in the scenario- these should form an integral part of a society's functions. But, just because these issues have not been addressed to in a time bound manner, the result is the death of these 8 infants without any fault of theirs.
This should be a warning bell for the state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who had been quoted as saying, "It was the critical nature of the cases like age of mother, weight of baby etc, that led to the deaths. Two mothers are below 20 years old. The doctors have specifically told me that these babies could not be saved despite the best possible care and effort,".
He also said, ""Every month Barpeta Medical College Hospital records an average of 60 infant deaths, so the daily infant death average is two. On Wednesday however, five deaths was more than the average," Sarma said. This means that it was a normal phenomena for at least 2 babies to die every day in the premises of the Medical College. Why was nothing done to minimize these deaths when these were already known to the authorities? Or is it this that we always seem to wait for the worst to happen before we take any constructive actions? This sorry state of the state in terms of health scenario is undoubtedly due to the lax behavior of the authority and if something is not done soon, the state is bound to reach its doom. We cannot allow anybody to play with the lives of people!
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