>Patna, July 20 (IANS): The pathetic state of a primary health centre in Bihar and delays in rushing them to better hospitals killed most students after they consumed mid-day meals in their school, the distraught parents say.
Days after 22 children died in Saran district, their parents and relatives blamed inadequate facilities at the nearest primary health centre as a major contributary factor to the deaths. Local authorities also took too much time in shifting them to a referral hospital and then finally to Patna.
Rameshwar Mahto, Sanju Devi, Gayanti Devi and Upendra Rai of Gandaman village, where the tragedy took place this week, are all parents with near similar stories.
Once the children became sick after eating the contaminated food cooked in the school, they were taken to a barely functional primary health centre at Mashrakh that had no saline kits or life saving drugs.
"There was virtually no medicine to tackle such a situation," Rai told IANS.
"After that we took them to a referral hospital but there also nobody could provide proper treatment. There was apathy. It cost the lives of our children," he moaned.
Sanju, another parent, said if proper treatment had been provided at the primary health centre, at least some children could have been saved.
Baliram Singh, a villager who was at the medical centre when the children were brought in, said saline kits had to be procured from outside.
"There were only two beds, one doctor and one oxygen cylinder. Nothing else," Singh recalled to IANS.
Rameshwar Mahto, who lost three grandchildren (Arti Kumari, Shanti Kumari and Vikas Kumar), blamed the delay in shifting the children to Chapra town and the Patna Medical College and Hospital for the large number of deaths.
"The district authorities took around 10 hours to realise the seriousness of the children's critical condition," he said.
Mahto is now attending to his another granddaughter Kajal Kumari, who survived the tragedy.
Sixteen children died at government hospitals in Mashrakh and Chapra due to lack of proper treatment and four died on way from Chapra to Patna and two died in Patna, according to villagers and officials.