Claiming ‘Septicemia’ (Blood Infection) as the major cause of recent infant deaths in G.B.Panth Hospital, the five-member Union Health and Family Welfare team Monday said that these infants were suffering from various diseases like pneumonia and meningitis while some of them were suffering from liver disorders.
Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, Chairman Adverse Events Following Immunizations Committee (AEFI), Professor NK Arora said that an inquiry committee was constituted to ascertain the causes of infant deaths in Kashmir after the State Government reported some adverse reports about the Pentavalent vaccine.
“Children between the age of 45 days to four and a half month are vulnerable to diseases. The infants died in G.B.Panth Hospital were found in these age groups who were suffering from pneumonia, meningitis, septicemia and liver disorder and the most common cause of the death and diagnosis was septicemia but there were unusual causes like liver disorder,” Arora said.
He said their objective was that by the time they finish their job, they collect all the required information and therefore the whole of Saturday they spent the time discussing all the cases with the G.B.Panth faculity.
“We went through all the records meticulously and discussed the patients in clinical sense, gone through their laboratory records to reach at the bottom of the problem.” Arora said.
He added, “On Saturday we decided to make the field visit and the purpose of the visit was three fold. One was we wanted to assess the whole health system and the way immunization is given in the State. The second objective of the visit was to get the first hand information from the parents whose infants had died. We went to six house-holds in this process. The third one was that we also wanted to do epidemiological investigation, so we also had informal discussion with the community living in the surroundings of these unfortunate infants.”
He said that they also had extensive informal interactions and in depth interviews with the State Immunization Officers, Programme Managers as well as State Health Directorate officials.
“We synthesized the information and on Monday morning we had brief discussion with the G.B.Panth faculity headed by Medical Superintendent and we also gave our feed back to State Health Minister.”
Prof N.K.Arora said that they investigated 12 cases which were reported AEFI out of which 8 were reported to be death cases while 4 were admitted with some symptoms and they were later on discharged in good health from the hospital. He said that out of these 8 deaths 7 were from G.B.Panth Hospital.
He said, “the team went through the G.B Panth hospital records and the way patients were managed in the hospital were absolutely marvelous. They have managed all the sick children in an excellent manner. After discussing with doctors, we were able to get all the answers to most of our questions,” he said.
“Based on our causality assessment under New WHO algorithm which takes into account the clinical features of children and health system issues we found that these children were having illnesses which commonly occur in their age group,” he said adding that ‘Septicemia’ (Blood Infection) was the major cause of the deaths of these unfortunate deaths.
“Since all the patients were coming from the same hospital so we reviewed the admission and mortality rate of 2012 and 2013 and we find that there is no change in the trend of either in admission rates or in the causes of mortality in this age group. Prior to the introduction of Pentavalent or after its admission there is no significant or consistent change in the rates of death of infants,” he said.
Arora said that they feel that Pentavalent vaccine is not associated with the deaths in these children. “It is equally important to emphasize that there was no programme error and is running very well and we did not find any case where any programme error has taken place,” he claimed.
Arora said that from past many years State of Jammu and Kashmir has not reported any AEFI, so the system of AEFI in this State needs strengthening. “It is only during last one month that most of the cases were reported from one hospital and clearly there is enhanced surveillance activity which has been started by G.B.Panth hospital in the State,” he said.
Dr Khera on this occasion said that since the introduction of the Pentavalent vaccine in Jammu and Kashmir 2.5 lakh doses have been administered to children.
While replying to a question, Prof Arora said he has no mandate to suggest to the State Government to improve the condition of Children Hospital in Kashmir Valley. “We can’t comment on any such matter which is beyond our purview,” he said adding that the team could not made the report public as it is very confidential. (CNS)