The Sambhavna Trust & the Bhopal
Medicine in Bhopal
A market research study carried out by the clinic shows that multinational pharmaceutical companies that hold control over majority of the drug market in gas affected Bhopal have benefitted the most from the disaster. Included in the top dozen multinational corporations that control nearly 40% of the market is Rhone Poulenc, the company that purchased the Agricultural Products Division of Union Carbide, of which the Bhopal plant was a part, after the disaster. Indeed there are a number of companies producing toxic chemicals that also produce pharmaceuticals giving an ironical twist to the meaning of market creation.
The work place and environmental risks involved in the manufacture of modern pharmaceuticals and the power of pharmaceutical corporations over government officials/ health professionals indicates the need for development of non-violent healing practices.
This is of particular significance in case of modern industrial diseases such as multiple chemical sensitivity and others related to neurological, immunological or reproductive functions in which modern medicine has very little of substance to offer.
The emphasis on ayurveda and yoga at the clinic stem from general concerns regarding modern medicine as well as the particular situation in Bhopal where a large population has been on almost constant medication for the last fourteen years without sustained relief in symptoms. Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures mentioned in classical ayurvedic texts are followed with additional use of pathological tests and objective methods of assessment. We avoid purchasing ayurvedic medicines from large companies that have many of the unethical practices common with those producing modern drugs. Twenty-five ayurvedic medicines are manufactured at the clinic with herbs collected or purchased locally.
We have devised a system of registration and medical record keeping suitable for monitoring health condition and efficacy of treatment for chronically ill persons. Persons are issued health books and medical data of individuals are computerized using epiinfo software.
Community health workers are also involved in the use and development of the method of Verbal Autopsy for monitoring exposure related deaths in the long aftermath of the disaster. The method used mostly to ascertain efficacy of public health interventions is based on the assumption that most deaths are associated with specific symptoms or symptom complexes that can be recognized, remembered and reported by lay persons. In this, information about the symptoms suffered by the deceased in different periods following the disaster are taken from the care giver of the deceased along with medical records of the deceased wherever available. These are then sent to a panel of three physicians who independently give their opinion on the probable cause of death and on its reliability to exposure. The final opinion on the probable cause of death is given by the clinic to the family of the deceased, depending upon the degree of agreement among the three independent opinions. In the absence of official monitoring and certification, this opinion is the only document available to families of the deceased to substantiate their claims for compensation. We believe that this can be an effective method for recording and establishing cases of corporate homicide at the workplace or in communities.