After 35 yrs of Bhopal gas disaster, the tragedy continues to haunt survivors

Bhopal: The death of noted activist Abdul Jabbar, the convener of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan at a private hospital has exposed the neglect of the government towards ensuring better medical treatment to the survivors of Bhopal Gas tragedy.

On the eve of the 35th anniversary of the tragedy, acknowledged as the world worst industrial disaster, the activists highlighting the appalling lack of healthcare facilities for the survivors demanded opening of medical college with Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) being its part.

The activists said that if medical college is opened with BMHRC, the government will be in a position to retain medical experts and update and upgrade the health facilities at gas relief hospitals. The "neglect" of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC), set up especially for the survivors, was the testimony to the suffering undergone by them over the past three-and-half decades said the activists.

Recalling Jabbar's recent death, an activist Rasheeda Bi said, "The long, painful sickness and death of Abdul Jabbar, leader of a survivors' organisation, exemplifies what almost every patient visiting the state and Central government run hospitals goes through." "Till today, there is no evidence that the governments at the state and the Centre have learnt any lessons from Jabbarbhai's suffering and untimely death," she said.

A number of specialists from medical fraternity served at BMHRC but gradually they moved to private or other state run hospital for various reasons including faulty service rules. Cardiologist Dr SC Trivedi who gave his services at memorial hospital left and joined Bansal Hospital. Similarly Dr Subodh Varshney joined Sidhdhanta Hospital, Dr Manisha Shrivastava AIIMS, nephrologist Dr MK Atlani left BMHRC to join Sidhdhanta Hospital with Dr Varsheny.

For the last several years the departments of Nephrology and Surgical Oncology are shut, while there are no specialists in Neurology, Pulmonary Medicine, surgical gastroenterology and gastro medicine departments.

Almost for 7 years no research has been done in this hospital that is run by the Department of Health Research, Government of India. Of the 16 new research projects listed by ICMR’s centre in Bhopal, only 3 are related to the disaster.

Jai Prakash, senior member of organisarion told media that opening of medical collge at BMHRC was one of our demands pending since 2010. The doctors at BMHRC are more interested in treating patients who pay and not the gas survivors who are entitled for free treatment at the hospital.

He further said, “The other demands are speedy hearing in curative petition for compensation to 5.70 lakh gas victims. And fast track court for speedy trial of gas tragedy accused. And clean up the UCC site from chemicals.” Jabbar, despite having gas victim medical treatment cards, took his breath last in private Chirayu Hospital just fortnight ago on November 15.

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