Bhopal activists seek action against BMHRC consultants
Leaders of five organizations of the survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, addressing on the ongoing crisis in the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC), on Monday sought punitive action against five corrupt and unethical consultants who have caused the hospital to move away from its original objective of serving Bhopal gas victims.
The organizations also called upon the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), to rededicate BMHRC to its original purpose and ensure that the best medical talents in the country join the hospital at the earliest to respond to the continuing medical crisis caused by the disaster of 1984.
Presenting data from the Cardiac Cath Lab at BMHRC, the organizations showed that Dr S K Trivedi, one of the consultants leaving BMHRC, had only carried out 20 procedures on gas victims between Nov 1, 2013 and Jan 8, 2014 while his colleagues carried out as many as 131 procedures on gas victims during the same period.
In contrast, Dr Trivedi carried out 78 cardiac procedures on non-gas victim private patients during the same period.
"Dr Trivedi has only shown interest in gas victims when he has used them as guinea pigs for unethical drug trials. He should be punished by the ICMR for his corrupt and discriminatory practices." said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.
Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action shared copies of email correspondence that she has had under an assumed name with one of the assistants of Dr. Subodh Varshney.
These emails suggest that Dr. Varshney was misusing BMHRC facilities for private gain of lakhs of rupees through Bariatric surgeries on private patients.
Dhingra also presented data for the year 2013 from the gastro-surgery department headed by Dr. Varshney that shows that while only 3 percent of gas victims reporting at the day clinics were admitted to the hospital, in the case of private patients the corresponding figure was 18 percent.
Dhingra said that both Dr. Trivedi and Dr. Varshney are facing court cases for their involvement in unethical drug trials during which as many as 9 gas victims have died.
Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha said that Dr Nitin Garg, one of the senior consultants soon leaving BMHRC has also been grossly discriminating against gas victims.
Namdeo said that official records from the Neurosurgery unit of BMHRC show that 64 percent of the patients of Dr. Garg in 2013 were private patients.
While 8 percent of the gas victims reporting at the day clinics were admitted to the Neurosurgery ward, the corresponding figure for private patients was 27 percent.
Nawab Khan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha presented the two different kinds of letterheads currently being used for gas victims and private patients by Dr. Kamlesh Talesra, a radiologist who wishes to leave BMHRC.
Khan pointed out that in clear violation of administrative directives, Dr. Talesra provides his private contacts in the letterheads meant for private patients.
Children Against Dow Carbide's Safreen Khan alleged that Dr. Dolly Chandra got private patients to purchase optical lenses at high rates instead of using the optical lenses of same quality supplied by the BMHRC at one third cost.
She said that this routine corruption is evident in the official records of surgical procedures carried in Ophthalmology and the inventory of optical lenses in the department.
The organizations said that the ICMR should let the unethical bunch of consultants leave BMHRC at the earliest while making sure that those responsible for the unethical drug trials on gas victims remain personally accountable.
The organizations demanded that recruitments at BMHRC should be according to central government rules instead of the current practice in which the rules of the old Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust are also followed.
(Posted on 11-02-2014)