Shocking: 24 deaths in 24 hours in a government hospital...What's happening in Maharashtra?

In a shocking piece of news, a government hospital in Maharashtra has reported back-to-back deaths, triggering a nationwide fury against the state government amidst a growing fear of more deaths. The horrific incident has drawn a sharp attention and showcased the flawed medical infrastructure in the country's economically-wealthiest state. 

The tragic incident had happened at Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Nanded district. In 24 hours, 24 people have died and the total death toll has soared to 31 so far. In a social media post, the Nanded District Information Office (DIO) said, "The facts related to the death of patients at Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital is as follows: 24 deaths between September 30 and October 1 (24 hours), seven deaths between October 1 and 2." 

The DIO further wrote, "Please do not panic. A team of doctors is ready." Of the total 31 patients died at the hospital, 16 were adults and 15 were children. Shockingly, it has come to the revelation that these deaths had occurred due to shortage of medicines. Of the 24 deaths that happened between September 30 and October 1, twelve were children - six boys and six girls.  

The hospital's dean has said that the rest twelve were adults and they died due to various ailments including snake bites. The dean had further divulged that the hospital is a tertiary level care centre but patients approach the hospital from different areas as it is the only medical facility in a 70 kilometre radius. The dean added that the number of patients admitted to the hospital would exceed sometime beyond the budget due to which there was a dearth in medicines. 

In a sharp irony to what the dean had divulged, the hospital management had denied the reports of medicine shortage. In its statement, the hospital on Tuesday claimed that there was no medicine shortage and the patients were in their 'last stage'. In the wake of a chilling incident, the Maharashtra cabinet had discussed the Nanded Hospital deaths on Tuesday and it has been reported that the state government has decided to form an inquiry committee over the incident. 

In the midst of growing fury against the BJP-Shiv Sena ruling Maharashtra government, the opposition Congress party has on Tuesday demanded a thorough investigation into the incident. Taking to social media, Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge wrote in Hindi, "It is said that these patients died due to lack of medicines and treatment. A similar incident took place in a government hospital in Thane in August 2023 in which 18 patients lost their lives."

"Our deepest condolences to the families of the victims. Such incidents taking place repeatedly have raised a question mark on the health system of the state government", Kharge added. He further said, "We demand a thorough investigation so that the culprits of this negligence are given strict punishment by the judiciary."  

Nanded is not alone 

While the state of Maharashtra and the nation mourn the loss of lives in the Nanded government hospital, what we now know is that Nanded is not alone as a similar incident that happened in Aurangabad has displayed that a flawed medical infrastructure in the state is getting rampant. According to reports, eight people, including two newborns, have died at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chhatrapati Sambhajianagar in Aurangabad in the last 24 hours. 

Though twelve patients had died in the last 24 hours, the hospital officials said that four were brought dead, reducing the deaths happened at the hospital to eight. Of the deceased were two pre-term babies and they weighed only 1,300 grams each. However, it has been reported that Dean of the hospital, Sanjay Rathod, has been downplaying the incident as he said that there is no major disparity between the number of deaths and the total number of admissions. 

While the Dean said, "Around 200 patients, including serious cases, are admitted to the hospital every day. Given their critical condition, there is no major disparity", the relatives of the patients and deceased had alleged that the lack of good facilities and infrastructure and the shortage of medicines were the reason behind the deaths of these people. 

Responding to the incident happened in Nanded hospital, Maharashtra Minister of Medical Education Hasan Mushrif on Tuesday said a thorough investigation will be conducted into Nanded hospital incident. The minister said, "We will carry out a thorough investigation. I have briefed Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis regarding the same. I will visit the hospital and a committee of doctors will be formed."