Gorakhpur child deaths spur 15-year-old schoolgirl to fundraise for oxygen

A 15-year-old student in Gorakhpur has set up a charity to provide oxygen to impoverished patients after 63 people, nearly half of whom died due to lack of oxygen at the main hospital in the hometown government .

Patients died of encephalitis, a disease that causes brain inflammation, after Gorakhpur Hospital ran out of oxygen due to unpaid bills, sparking outrage at the poorly run Indian state health system.

“This tragedy was something that could have been avoided,” said teenager Khushi Chandra, who set up Oxygen Gorakhpur to raise funds for oxygen in hospitals.

“It’s very personal to me, like it happened at my door … No child can be denied the right to life and, in this case, the right to breathe,” he said. said in a statement.

“As a responsible citizen of my city and my country, I feel responsible for the fact that such tragedies do not happen again,” he added.

Acute encephalitis syndrome and Japanese encephalitis epidemics are common in India, especially during the monsoon season, and require hundreds of lives.

Often referred to as “brain fever,” encephalitis causes high fever, vomiting and, in severe cases, convulsions, paralysis and coma. Infants and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Virus outbreaks tend to occur in poor areas, such as Gorakhpur, where mosses leave stagnant pools of water, allowing mosquitoes to reproduce and infect villagers.

Television media in mid-August – which showed that parents who had the bodies of the babies and said they had died because they had no oxygen – gave rise to widespread criticism of the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Gorakhpur is located.

The state, which is governed by the Bharatiya Janata party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, triggered the head of the hospital as well as the head of the pediatric department.

But the dismissed hospital chief said he had written to the administration several times to free up funds to pay oxygen providers.

Public spending on public health accounts for about one percent of GDP, one of the lowest in the world. In recent years, the Modi government has increased health spending and is committed to making health care more affordable.

But Chandra said the Indians should help underserved hospitals provide bases like oxygen to prevent unnecessary deaths.

“I want the support of other like-minded citizens who come together to ensure that oxygen never stops in our hospitals,” he said.