On Monday evening, as her 11-year-old sister waged a losing battle against dengue at a government-run hospital in western Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad, where authorities face an outbreak of the virus, Nikita Kushwaha flung herself before the vehicle of a senior government official making an inspection.
A distressing video clip shows Ms Kushwaha telling Agra Divisional Commissioner Amit Gupta: “Sir… Please, sir… do something or she will die… please ensure her proper treatment.” Ms Kushwaha also alleges a lack of treatment by and facilities at the government-run hospital in Firozabad.
She then says. “You will not leave” and squats in front of the car, at which point two women police officers drag her away as she shouts. A male police officer and the commissioner then intervene, and seem to be trying to calm the young woman down, before she is hustled away from the spot.
The appeal was eventually pointless; Vaishnavi Kushwaha died a few hours later.
The hospital has said everything possible was done to save the young girl.
“It was a complicated case… liver was enlarged and there was fluid in the abdomen… as her condition deteriorated, we also put her on a ventilator. We did everything we could, but could not save her,” Dr Sangeeta Aneja, the Principal of the Firozabad Medical College, said.
There are many such stories from Firozabad, which is 50 km from Agra and 320 km from Lucknow, and where Vaishnavi was one of 60 people (as of Monday) to have died of dengue.
This morning a young girl was rushed to the hospital in her father’s arms but she too died. The distraught grandmother sat on the steps outside the hospital crying, and was offered some comfort by two security guards.
Also on Monday, NDTV reported on the death of a five-year-old girl from Firozabad, whose parents ran from pillar to post for hours to get her admitted to a hospital. Sawanya Gupta was reportedly brought to the hospital at 8 am but only admitted around noon. She was declared dead soon after.
“My sister would have been safe had we been provided treatment on time. We told staff about her condition, but they did not pay heed to our request,” the girl’s brother told NDTV.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his government, who have already been criticised for their handling of the Covid pandemic, are taking further flak over the growing dengue crisis, with many alleging poor treatment facilities and extortion by doctors.
And with an election due in a few months, the opposition has also pounced.
Apart from Firozabad, several other UP districts, including Mathura and Kanpur, have also reported worryingly large numbers of dengue cases.