India probes if oxygen supply shortage killed 30 infants

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NEW DELHI Indian police are investigating whether 30 infants died from the lack of oxygen in a northern state-run hospital, in the second case within a month in which medical supply shortages have been blamed for the deaths of dozens of children.

An underfunded and poorly managed public health system is in the spotlight after more than 60 children died last month in a public hospital in northern Uttar Pradesh, amid accusations that oxygen supplies ran out because of unpaid bills.

Police launched an investigation on Sunday in the latest case after a government report blamed the chief medical officer and doctors at another institution in the northern state, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, for the deaths of 30 infants.

The infants died of perinatal asphyxia in the state's Farrukhabad district between July 21 and Aug 20, police said.

"The probe officer was told by mothers that the hospital did not insert oxygen pipes (into the infants' windpipes) after birth, and proper medication was also not given," the police said.

The investigation suggested that 30 out of a total of 49 children died of perinatal asphyxia - caused by a reduced level of oxygen in infants and depriving them of the ability to breathe freely - the police added.- REUTERS