Seven newborns died because of negligence or the malfunctioning of ventilators and lack of oxygen at the children’s complex of Vehari’s District Headquarter Hospital.

The parents and relatives of the deceased babies staged protest against DHQ staff. They said that oxygen was finished in the cylinder and there was no staff or doctor to replace it because they were sleeping in room. The hospital medical superintendent told the The Nation that the babies died because of their premature birth.

Meanwhile, the Vehari administration has suspended the duty doctor and staff, and started inquiry.  PML-N Youth Wing District President Dr Safdar Abbas said that he wrote to the DCO some days ago about the unavailability of oxygen in the hospital but he did not pay heed to the issue.

Relatives of the deceased babies said that there was bad situation in children ward of the hospital. The chief minister of Punjab has taken notice of the incident, and ordered the secretary health to immediately look into the matter. He also sent DG Health Parvez and Health Advisor Salman Rafiq to inquire into the matter.

TV REPORTS ADD: The family members said the deaths were caused by the carelessness of paramedical staff, not faulty ventilators. They went on to allege that the hospital’s staff were on their cellphones all night, leaving the patients unattended for hours.

Further, Dr Maqbool Ahmed, in charge of the Intensive Care Unit, has claimed that only four children have died due to malfunctioning ventilators. It has also been reported that Dr Ahmed and the nurse on duty, Sumaira Johnson, have been suspended following the incident. An inquiry committee has been formed, according to Medical Superintendent Doctor Muhammed Ashraf, to investigate the matter.

Four of the infants died on Monday and another four died early Tuesday. The relatives added that upon noticing deterioration in the condition of the infants, they tried to wake the doctors who were asleep during duty hours. However, doctors at the hospital have said that the condition of six infants currently on ventilators was also critical.