The Catholic Church of India has joined the nation in mourning the death of at least 70 people, among them many children, who died in a hospital in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state. "The Church in India mourns for the loss of innocent lives, that of our children in the tragedy of the Gorakhpur Hospital," said Indian Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). Speaking to AsiaNews, he expressed the condolences of the entire Indian Catholic community to the families affected by what he said was an "immense loss that afflicts the whole nation."
Dozens of children and infants suffering from encephalitis died in Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur, one of the largest hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, because of the lack of oxygen supplies. According to some local newspapers, the death toll has risen to 79.
Card. Cleemis who is head of the India-based Syro-Malankara Catholic Church reaffirmed that "the loss of valuable lives is a problem for the entire country. The government should have provided adequate care, and now it must take the right actions."
The tragedy occurred in recent days in neonatal and neurological pediatric wards. According to investigators, the liquid oxygen supplier discontinued distribution due to unpaid debts. The executives of the company justified their actions by claiming to have repeatedly warned the hospital administration, but it was not able to settle the debt.
Hundreds of people die each year in India of encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease common during the monsoon season, and no medical official directly linked the recent deaths to a lack of oxygen.
The tragedy of children highlights the serious shortcomings of India's public health system. Local experts argue that the revolving door of governments has done nothing but worsen the difficulties in staffing and supply.
"At this moment of great pain, the Church offers its support to the families of the victims. Let us pray that the Lord will give them His consolation, " Card. Cleemis added. (Source: AsiaNews)