The death of babies at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu was unfortunate. But that was sign of complacency that cannot be tolerated.

An investigation has found that the failure to institute infection control measures is found to have caused the bacterial infection outbreak at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the national referral hospital in Thimphu that led to the deaths of 11 babies.

How this was made to happen is indeed shocking.

As per the investigation report, besides water contamination, it was found that many infection control measures were not employed including poor hand hygiene. The hospital claimed that they were not able to carry out the infection control measures because of shortages of human resources and many staff at the NICU were new and not very experienced in neonatal care.

The hospital also had shortages of infection control resources like chlorine for disinfection and hand sanitisers for sometime. Water sources of the hospital were found not contaminated, which means contamination was in the distribution of the water and the hospital’s tank.

Guidelines were prepared in consultation with the stakeholders including JDWNRH but it has been found that weakness was in implementation of the infection control measures.

The hospital may have taken precaution, but the laxity that it showed is unacceptable. Because the hospital is where the people put their trust for safety, it matters all the more. The hospital has now taken measures to stop the spread of the infection.  Too little, too late.

At a time when some of the political parties are floating the idea of better health system in the country, these realities must be taken into account. Now the time has come for the hospital authority to regain trust. And that will come only with someone ready to take the moral responsibility.