31 August 2017
Survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, today demonstrated before the Governor’s residence against the deteriorating conditions in the central government run Bhopal Memorial hospital. The demonstrators handed over a letter addressed to the Prime Minister calling for appointment of consultants and doctors, framing of recruitment rules and making the hospital functional to fulfil its stated objective of “serving Bhopal victims”.
Members of the five organisations leading the peaceful demonstration complained that conditions in the Bhopal Memorial hospital have been worsening ever since the central government took over its administration in 2010. They say that the deterioration in the Memorial hospital, run by the Department of Health Research (DHR), is a glaring example of the central government’s apathy towards the half million victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster. Pointing to the over Rs. 700 crore corpus available for the hospital, they say it is not the shortage of funds but absence of compassion that is coming in the way of health care of the victims.
“There are no consultants in five departments of the hospital. Alarmingly large number of gas victims is suffering from cancers and the Oncology department in Bhopal Memorial remains closed. Well over a thousand gas victims have been diagnosed with severe kidney diseases but there are no consultants in the Nephrology department for their treatment.” said Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.
Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha said “Thousands of gas victims have to wait for three months or more for their surgeries because there are not enough anaesthesiologists. Patients have to wait for months together to get results of their investigations because the sole consultant in the Radiology department is on contract and visits only twice a week.”
Nawab Khan president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha narrated the hardships patients have to endure due to the non-availability of equipment and medicines at the Memorial hospital. “Patients with kidney problems are forced to visit expensive private nephrologists to avail the dialysis facilities at the hospital. Gas victims who are already impoverished and have a right to free health care are being asked to purchase many of the medicines prescribed at the Bhopal Memorial from the market.”
“The Supreme Court appointed Monitoring Committee has conveyed its extreme displeasure on the functioning of the Bhopal Memorial. However, there is clear evidence that the judiciary has not been able to make the central government change it’s apathetic attitude towards the victims of Bhopal. The clearest example of the central government’s disinterest in running Bhopal Memorial is that seven years after it took over the hospital there still are no rules in place for recruitment of staff, purchase of equipment and medicines and every aspect of management is ad-hoc and tentative” said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
Responding to the recent statement of a central Minister of State on the possibility of merging Bhopal Memorial with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Safreen Khan of the Children against Dow Carbide said “He made no mention of how the exclusive rights of the gas victims would be preserved in the merger. Most of all, the statement was made so casually that it could well be an attempt to plant fake news to manage media flak.”
|Rashida Bi,||Nawab Khan,||Balkrishna Namdeo,||Rachna Dhingra,||Safreen Khan,|
|Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh||Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha||Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha||Bhopal Group for Information and Action||Children Against Dow Carbide|