A court here Thursday charged Kerala Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi and seven others for culpable homicide not amounting to murder over the death of 38 newborns in a hospital due to infection.
The court of additional chief judicial magistrate here passed the judgement on a complaint by a person regarding infant deaths at the state-owned Sree Avittam Tirunal (SAT) Hospital.
The deaths were due to infection the infants contracted in the labour room, according to blood tests conducted at the Medical College Hospital.
The infection is stated to have been caused by klebsiella bacteria that proliferate in unhygienic conditions. A few infants died due to staphylococci infection.
The news broke out Tuesday courtesy a local TV channel and since then leaders of all political parties, minus the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist, have staged protests at the hospital leading to clashes with the police.
The Hospital Development Committee met under the leadership of the district collector and asked the state-owned Hindustan Latex to immediately clean up the hospital.
On Wednesday, the hospital's superintendent was removed for not informing the state government about the deaths. The hospital is attached to Kerala's premier Medical College Hospital here.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Government Medical College Teachers Association, which met here Thursday, blamed the government for the poor infrastructure in the hospital.
According to them, the staff strength was inadequate to handle around 60 births a day. The government has appointed a five-member panel of senior doctors to look into the matter and submit a report in three weeks.
Another three-member committee has been set up to oversee the Rs.10 million modernisation of the hospital. People from the lower and middle classes visit the hospital due to its low treatment charges.
A normal delivery at the hospital costs around Rs.3,000 and in private hospitals over Rs.12,000.