Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday took notice of the deaths of eight infants who died overnight in an incubator ward in District Teaching Hospital Sarghoda.
Sikandar Hayat Warraich, the spokesman for the District Teaching Hospital Sarghoda, told Dawn via telephone that premature births coupled with low birth weight led to the deaths of the infants.
He also said that their deliveries were performed by midwives who were unable to provide frontline medical care that is imperative for a newborn baby. The spokesperson added that 26 infants had been admitted in the hospital out of which 10 are said to be in critical condition.
The spokesperson furthermore said the hospital only had a capacity of 25 nursery beds, but as there was no hospital of its kind in the district, it often had to deal with over admission. Meanwhile, a three-member team has been constituted by the chief minister to probe the deaths, with instructions to submit a report within 24 hours.
A report published in 2012 found that Pakistan ranks fourth globally in terms of the number of preterm births, with India on the top, followed by China and Nigeria as third and fourth, respectively. The report ‘Born too soon: the global action report on preterm birth’ said that Pakistan had made very slow progress in maternal and child health.
It said most poor women at risk and receiving poor health care in Pakistan were in rural areas and urban slums, which were difficult to access. Chronic infections, diabetes and hypertension were major risk factors.