by Nozia Sayyed
The health NGO experts said this unhealthy trend may result in a tragedy similar to the one in Modasa in Gujarat, where over 40 people died following an outbreak of Hepatitis B.
“Given the complete lack of regulation of the private medical sector in the state, similar outbreaks in Maharashtra cannot be ruled out,” said Dr. Nilangi Sardeshpande, research coordinator of Sathi–Cehat, adding that this can trigger many illnesses and epidemics in the state. The survey, which covered 1,659 people across 10 districts in the state, found that an abnormally high 61.6% of them were administered a shot. “This is much above the proportion of patients who rationally require an injection, which is not more than 5–10%,” Sardeshpande said.
Patients particularly from rural and tribal areas and the poor seem to be suffering disproportionately from this highly risky overuse of injections, she said, explaining that the survey found that over 73% people from rural areas as compared to 40% from urban areas were given injections irrationally.
“It is clear that due to the lack of any regulatory mechanism, unregistered medical practitioners have proliferated in rural and tribal areas of the state, which has resulted in the rampant use of injections,” she said.
The prevalence of injections is extremely high in those areas where the private health sector includes unregistered practitioners and quacks, she said. Poor, uneducated patients have been made to perceive injection as an indicator of better treatment and to be superior to oral medication, she said.
Dr Abhay Shukla from Sathi–Cehat said the risks of injection overuse may not only result in a major outbreak as in Modasa but could also lead to nerve injury, limb paralysis, precipitation of paralytic polio in children.
“There is evidence that up to 10% HIV/Aids cases in South Asia may be due to unsafe injections,” Shukla said.