Ballia: Fifty-seven people admitted at Uttar Pradesh's Ballia district hospital have died in four days, following which a committee of the health department from Lucknow has reached here to ascertain the cause of deaths, officials said on Sunday.
The deaths come amid the heatwave conditions in the region. However, Ballia Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jayant Kumar said only two people have died due to heat stroke in the district till Sunday.
The two-member committee comprising Director (Communicable Diseases) Dr A K Singh and Director (Medical Care) K N Tiwari, which on Sunday inspected the wards at the Ballia district hospital, also ruled out severe heat as the main reason behind the rise in the deaths of elderly patients in the district.
Chief Medical Superintendent (CMS) of the district hospital, Dr Divakar Singh, was removed and sent to Azamgarh, allegedly after he made a careless remark about the cause of deaths. He had on Friday said that over 20 patients at the hospital died due to heat.
Dr S K Yadav has been given the charge of CMS, a senior official said.
"As per records of the district hospital, of the 54 deaths, 40 per cent of the patients had fever, while 60 per cent were suffering from other diseases. So far, only two persons have died due to heat stroke in the district," CMO Kumar told PTI.
CMS Yadav said the hospital is under pressure as around 125 to 135 patients are being admitted here daily.
"On June 15, as many as 154 patients were admitted to the district hospital, of which 23 patients died due to various reasons. While 20 patients died on June 16, 11 passed away on the following day. They were all aged above 60 years," he added.
The CMO said that three more patients died at the district hospital on Sunday.
According to the health officials, on average about eight deaths are reported daily at the district hospital.
Later, speaking to the media after the inspection, Dr A K Singh said, "The number of deaths are alarming but in most cases the deaths occurred within few hours after getting admitted to the hospital."
"In most cases, deaths occurred between two and six hours of admission. Our medical staff couldn't get enough time to stabilise the patients or to get the necessary medical tests done," Singh said, adding that it would be too early to comment on the exact cause behind these deaths.
He said that most of the patients who died were from Bansdih and Gadwar blocks of the district.
The committee has also asked the authorities to test the drinking water in the area.
"Most of these patients complained of chest pain, irregular breathing and fever. All aspects of these symptoms will be looked into and corroborated with necessary medical examination of body fluids," the director (communicable diseases) said.
When asked if the deaths were caused due to the recent heatwave, Singh said, "Had it been true, similar deaths would have also been reported from other districts which have recorded similar or higher day temperatures in the past few days. High temperature can lead to fever."
He admitted that coolers and other arrangements to counter heat in the hospital wards are insufficient.
Meanwhile, UP's Transport Minister Daya Shankar Singh, who is the MLA from Ballia Nagar, on Sunday said the death rate of elderly people increases during the summer.
"Most of the patients who died were in their 60s and 70s. Generally, this happens," he told reporters here on the sidelines of a programme.
When asked that the deaths are not stopping in Ballia, he said, "Natural deaths are also taking place."
The minister praised the arrangements made by the health department, and termed them as "good". Two officers have come here, and are monitoring the situation, he said.
Nearly 400 patients were admitted to the district hospital from June 15 to June 17, the health officials said.
District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar said that the number of beds at the district hospital has been increased to accommodate more patients.
"In order to ensure that patients at the district hospital do not face any difficulties, some air coolers and air-conditioners have been arranged. Apart from this, 15 beds have also been increased," he said.
The DM also said, "CMS Dr Divakar Singh has been sent to Azamgarh, since he gave wrong information about death figures."
Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak, who also holds the health portfolio, said, "The superintendent's removal has been done since he had made a careless remark without having information about the heatwave. All the chief medical officers and the chief medical superintendents in the state have been instructed to identify each and every patient, and provide them treatment."
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav hit out at the state government over the deaths.
"Thirty-six deaths in 24 hours in Ballia district hospital due to heat and heat stroke is an unfortunate and shameful incident. In Ballia, 121 patients have died in eight days. The poor are not getting treatment in hospitals," Yadav said in a statement.
"The BJP government is neither able to provide electricity to the public nor it is able to provide treatment to them," he alleged.
On Saturday, additional director of the health department of Azamgarh division, O P Tiwari, said a team of the health department from Lucknow would come to Ballia and conduct tests, after which the cause of the deaths would be ascertained.
"Maybe there is a disease, which could not be detected. The temperature is also high in the region. During the summers and winters, death rates among diabetic patients and those with breathing difficulties and blood pressure usually increase," Tiwari had said.
Ballia, along with the entire central and eastern UP, is reeling under sultry weather. As per the India Meteorological Department, the maximum temperature in Ballia was recorded at 43.5 degrees Celsius on Sunday, six notches above normal.