Sat, Feb 26, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Twelve pregnant women die in Indian hospital

AFP, NEW DELHI

Twelve pregnant women have died in 10 days in an Indian government hospital, with contaminated fluids administered during childbirth suspected to be the cause, reports said yesterday.

Another five women are in a serious condition, according to doctors at the Umaid Hospital in the city of Jodhpur, in a case that highlights the often-poor standards of care in state-run health facilities in India.

The first death occurred on Feb. 13 and a meeting of leading doctors was held three days later which failed to identify the cause, the Indian Express newspaper reported, citing doctors and officials at the hospital.

“All the women died after severe haemorrhaging and, for now, we believe the cause might be an infection after they were administered tainted IV fluids,” Umaid Hospital superintendent N.G. Chaggani told the newspaper.

Police have lodged a case against the local company that supplied the fluids and the Indian manufacturer.

“We have begun our investigation and are checking the suspected stock,” Jodhpur police commissioner Bhupendra Kumar Dak told the Times of India newspaper.

India has a two-speed medical system in which shabby and often-unsanitary state facilities co-exist with state-of-the-art private hospitals that cater for wealthy overseas medical tourists who visit India for low-cost surgery.

In July last year, India’s news channel NDTV reported that at least eight children had been infected with HIV by blood transfusions given at Umaid Hospital in the previous six months, while 43 had contracted Hepatitis C.

As well as poor standards of care, most Indians are required to pay for their healthcare out of their own pockets, with the state and insurance companies picking up a fraction of overall spending. A major study published in British medical journal The Lancet last month said payments by individuals accounted for 71.1 percent of spending on health, with 39 million Indians pushed back below the poverty line each year because of the cost of care.

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