Several important health and monitoring studies on the long-term effects of Union Carbide’s gases on Bhopal survivors are to be revived, ten years after they were abandoned by the Indian government.
Survivors and their supporters have protested since 1994 that the studies were crucial, and the reasons for dropping them have never been adequately explained.
At a community health camp organised by the Sambhavna Clinic
Today, with the scale and severity of the medical catastrophe continuing to grow, a special advisory committee appointed by India’s Supreme Court has announced the revival of the studies as the beginning of a stream of new initiatives aimed at bringing proper medical relief to the survivors.
For more information on the medical situation in Bhopal, please visit www.bhopal.org, the website of the Bhopal Medical Appeal and the free Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal. Donations to the Medical Appeal may be made from this page.
Union Carbide, the corporation directly responsible for the disaster continues to defy the summons of an Indian court where it is charged with the criminal homicide of more than 20,000 Bhopalis.
Please sign our petition addressed to Union Carbide’s owner, Dow Chemicals and tell all your friends about this massive injustice.
Dainik Bhaskar, Bhopal
Thursday March 17, 2005
GAS DISASTER FILES WILL BE OPENED ONCE AGAIN
Director ICMR says research is necessary
By Neelam Sharma
Research that was wound up 18 years back is likely to be resumed. Four to five studies that need to be started immediately have been identified. A team of ICMR [Indian Council of Medical Research] specialists will work on this. These decisions were taken at the meeting of the Advisory Committee set up by the Supreme Court for the health care of the gas victims. The first meeting of the Committee was held at the auditorium of the Kamala Nehru Hospital. The Director General of ICMR Dr. N K Ganguly chaired the meeting.
Dr. Ganguly said that studies on the health consequences of gas exposure are necessary and all related will be collected. A task force has been set up to monitor the research that will begin soon. Given the higher number of cases of lung cancer among the gas victims this was thought to be an area that requires more attention. Dr. Ganguly said that in today’s meeting recommendations have been made to start few research studies with immediate effect. Proposals will be made on these and work will begin from April 1.
The treatment protocol for the gas victims have remained unchanged since 1987. He spoke in detail on the need for preparing treatment protocols taking into account the current health problems. Dr. Ganguly directed that all information related to the treatment of all gas victims be submitted to the Committee. Treatment protocols will be prepared afresh taking into consideration current health problems and the treatment facilities available to them. The matter of transfer of Gas Relief hospitals to the Health Department will be decided on the basis of information on health problems and available treatment facilities. Dr Ganguly did not seem to be in favour of transfer of the Gas Relief hospitals to the Health Department. He said that in view of the significant work to be done in future it is better to keep them as a separate unit. Dr Ganguly also indicated the possibility of bringing together all research done on the health consequences of gas exposure and carrying out an evaluation of data quality. The research carried out so far will be assessed and published according to their scientific value. Dr. Ganguly accepted the possibility of impact on the reproductive system of women because of the effect of Methyl isocyanate on cell chromatin of uterus of pregnant women. He indicated that research could be carried out on this after current data and that from the immediate aftermath are studied.
What Has Been Decided At The Meeting
· Coordination will be established between the Advisory Committee and the Monitoring Committee.
· An agency has been identified for collection of data on patients.
· A Task force to be constituted for monitoring the work of rehabilitation of gas victims.
· In any research carried out in future data will be collected from all 56 wards for evaluation of actual damage.
· Full attention will be paid to the needs and expectations of the gas victims.
· It was recommended that the funds available for relief and rehabilitation be spent depending upon the priorities of the gas victims.
Members Of The Committee
Chairman Dr N K Ganguly, Director General ICMR
Dr. P M Bhargav, Molecular Biologist
Dr C C Choubal, Gastro Enterologist
Dr Shyam Agrawal, Oncologist
Dr Deepak Mehta, Medical Practitioner
Dr. C Sathyamala, Community Medicine
Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences
Gas Relief Hospitals Will Be Networked
Dr Ganguly suggested the networking of all Gas Relief hospitals and coding of patients to improve treatment of gas victims and access to information. This will enable patients to receive same treatment at any of the health care facilities. This will also help in estimating the actual number of gas victims. Commenting on the inadequacies of the system of patient registrations in hospitals he said that all data should be on the computers so that patients do not have problem in receiving immediate treatment. Currently patients go from one hospital to another in the hope of finding relief.
There Are No Super-Specialists
The qualifications of doctors appointed at the Gas Relief hospitals were considered inadequate at the meeting. Chief Medical Officer, Gas Relief Dr B S Ohri accepted that there was a problem in this regard. Till today Dr Ohri held that doctors at the Gas relief hospitals were adequately qualified. The Committee has decided that the incharge of the center for rehabilitation studies should currently work under the directions of Dr Pande of All India Institute of Medical Sciences.