Mrunal Manmay Dash

Odisha's Koraput district seems to be under the neonatal death trap. Death of eight infants in the last 15 days in Borigumma block under the district has put the Koraput administration on toes and the locals under fear.

Muduli family in Borigumma, who has bore the maximum brunt of the death trap, has a sorry tale to tell. Last year, the family had lost a 15-day-old infant. And as if that was not enough, this year, another baby was born and succumbed in just 15 days.

Indra Muduli, the father of the infant said, “My baby was with me for just 14 days. One night, he developed fever and cough and he died the next day.”

After 15 days and eight deaths, a healthcare team visited Rengalguda, Nuaguda and Katharguda villages in the block to inspect the cause of the series infant deaths. They quizzed the families of the dead infants, studied the environment and collected drinking water samples to ascertain the actual cause of the deaths.

Speaking to reporters, a member of the five-member health team, Dr Durga Prasad Patra said, “We collected all the data from the aggrieved families, from their baby’s immunisation details to food and health condition till their death. We will analyse them and submit a report to the authorities.”

Koraput ADMO Dr Prashant Kumar Samal said, “Only after a detailed analysis of the data collected from the families, we will be able to tell what caused their deaths.”

On the other hand, the ASHA workers across Odisha have been on a strike since the last 17 days with a charter of 8-point demand. They are staging sit-ins in front of their respective healthcare centres in all the blocks of Odisha, crippling the maternal and neonatal care in rural areas.

A protesting ASHA worker in Koraput said, “We are also mothers and can feel the grief of another mother who has lost her infant. But it is the government which has forced us to ignore the plights of the villagers. Only, the government is responsible for the death of the infants in Koraput.”

(Reported By T Gourishankar, OTV)