11 disabled children dead in Rehab home

Jaipur, April 29: At least 11 persons including eight children with special needs of a state-run government rehabilitation centre near Jaipur died in the past 12 days, reportedly due to contaminated food and water.

According to doctors’ at least 27 people including many of them children who were suffering from vomiting, diarrhea were admitted to two of Jaipur’s hospitals, J K Lon Hospital and Sawai Man Singh Hospital first on April 16. The first death occurred on April 18. Thereafter children were admitted and 1 deaths including eight children died reportedly of septic shock.

After the local media flashed the news, the state government has come under fire for neglecting the issue and keeping the deaths under wraps.
The state government today came out with a statement saying the preliminary reports and doctors’ opinion point towards bacterial infection or some other form of infection. But the actual cause can be ascertained only after the reports of blood, urine and culture come, informed state social empowerment minister Dr Arun Chaturvedi.The post mortem and food and water sample reports are yet to come.

He added the government has not given a clean chit to anybody and will ascertain who is responsible for these deaths and fix accountability. At present the main priority of the government is to stop recurrence of such incidents.

At least 27 people including children in the age range of 12 years to 30 years were admitted to the J K Lone hospital and the Sawai Man Singh Hospital after they complained of vomitting, diarrhea and stomach ache between April 16 and April 28. The first death occurred on April 18. Then other deaths followed in the next few days.

Three out of the nine children still in the hospital are said to be critical. Seven of them have been discharged. Out of the 11 dead, only three of them were male and the rest all female.

Doctor Ashok Gupta, superintendent, J K Lon Hospital said preliminary tests and investigations on the patients say the deaths could have been because of eating and drinking of contaminated food and water over several days.

The rehabilitation centre, at Jamdoli, about 20 km from here, houses 200 mentally challenged inmates. At least two doctors, 13 nurses, 36 caretakers and 20 cleaning staff and 20 tutors are posted there. Jamdoli home’s superintendent Anita Choudhary said the children and elder inmates were referred to the Jaipur hospital as soon as they started falling ill. They were first given first aid, that is whatever was possible

Anita, who is taking care of the home since 2011, added: “We the staff also have the same food and drink the same water. But these kids have less immunity and hardly any IQ, so the infection may have got to them. These kids are mostly orphan, only one or two have parents. But nobody ever comes to meet them. Such an incident has, however, not happened here before.”

Dr Nupur, the doctor at the home said she had been working there since 13 years but she had never seen such an incident before.

Dr Chaturvedi said a special dispensary would now be set up there for at least 15 days and 20 more caretakers have assigned to the home.

A three-member committee will also be set up to find the exact causes, those responsible for the deaths and negligence, to fix responsibility and to take future precautions.
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports of these deaths.
The commission has observed that the contents of the reports, if true, raise a serious issue of human rights violation of the victim children.

Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police and Director General, Health Services, Rajasthan Government calling for reports within two weeks.
Allegations of government’s failure in maintaining the upkeep of the home have also been reported as the reason behind the incident.
Meanwhile the Congress has pounced upon the issue, saying the government must own up responsibility for negligence over these deaths. Dr Chaturvedi has also been criticised for saying earlier that the low immunity of these children may have led to the deaths. Activists are demanding his resignation over the issue.

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